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Xavier's faculty members recognized that the ultimate goal of any
faculty development program, regardless of its specific aims, is to
improve student learning. To this end then, Xavier has implemented a
faculty development program that includes, among other aspects, the
establishment of teaching, technology, and research communities. A
grant from the Bush and William and Flora Hewlett foundations aims to:
- promote the scholarship of teaching by creating a campus culture where teaching is made public, discussed, examined, improved, and rewarded
- implement a faculty development program that encourages and supports the use of technology in the classroom
- establish communities of faculty and students whose conversations are focused on specific teaching and learning problems and opportunities
- establish communities of faculty and students engaged in research using information technology and other resources.
A variety of communities have been established since 1998, the first
year of the grant. The use of technology has not been limited to the
"technology communities," however. Several research and teaching
communities have utilized the Internet, WebBoard and other electronic
communication technologies, Blackboard, and online databases such as
JSTOR. Examples of faculty and student communities include:
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Creative Writing Teaching and Learning Community. This community of
five faculty members and two students engaged in a project with the
- strengthen teaching and student learning in the newly established creative writing minor
- refine and develop the curriculum and teaching standards of the creative writing minor
- develop a course portfolio for Introduction to Creative Writing.
World Literature and World History Teaching and Learning Community.
Students and faculty members from the History and English departments
established a community of learners focused on:
- learning in the disciplines
- contextualizing literature with history
- assessing learning in the World Literature and World History courses.
General Biology Teaching and Learning Community. Faculty and students from the Biology Department coordinated a long-term, comprehensive effort to assist first semester biology students in developing their note- and test-taking skills, and critical thinking abilities.
Case Study: "Letter from Birmingham Jail." This interdisciplinary and inter-institutional project included two faculty members from Xavier (and the students in their courses) and two faculty members from the University of Wisconsin-Stout (and the students in their courses). The goals of this project included:
- utilizing the case study approach to promote meaningful discussion and active learning
- providing a means for students of diverse and possibly differing backgrounds and points of view to engage in honest, open, and respectful dialogue with one another
- utilizing electronic means of communication to promote meaningful discussion both between classes, as well as between universities.
- The Black Aesthetic and Beyond Research Community. An interdisciplinary group of three faculty members from the African American Studies, English, and Philosophy departments and four students investigated questions of cultural identity and subjectivity at the intersection of literature, literary theory, philosophy, art, and history, beginning with the "Black Aesthetic" theory.
- The Interaction of Science and Theology in Alternative Medicine. This interdisciplinary project involved two students and four faculty members from the College of Pharmacy, and the Biology and Theology departments. The focus of this group was the meeting point of science and medical care with religious beliefs and theological principles exemplified by Alternative Medicine.
- InterneXUS. To further promote faculty and student research at Xavier, three faculty members from the Biology, Political Science, and History departments developed this on-line journal for student scholarship.
- Students as Critical Researchers of the World Wide Web: Assessing Available On-line Resources for the History of Psychology. Two Psychology Department faculty members and two students developed a website for use in the History and Systems of Psychology course that provides students with tools to evaluate the quality of course-appropriate websites.
- On-line Writing Laboratory in Communications. Five faculty members and students from the Communications Department developed a website aimed at linking the field of communications, writing in the discipline, and technology.
- From Chalkboard to Keyboard: Adapting the Engineering Graphics Course to Today's Technology. This project involved two faculty members from the Physics/Engineering Department and two students majoring in physics. The community of faculty and students set out to incorporate the latest technologies as instructional tools and to redesign the current engineering graphics course by including industry-standard computing tools.
- Course Portfolio Working Groups. Several faculty members have worked together in writing their course portfolios.
- Scholarship of Teaching Working Group. A handful of faculty members have worked together in developing classroom research projects.
- The Comparative Literature Initiative. This project involved chairs of six humanities and social sciences departments in a yearlong discussion of how to construct an inter-disciplinary major in Comparative Literature, with a minor in a foreign language and appropriate upper-level courses in related humanities and social sciences.
- The Tragedy. This interdisciplinary group of faculty and students researched questions pertaining to tragedy at the intersection of literature, literary theory, philosophy, history, and art, beginning with the classic instances of this dramatic form, such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The faculty and students determined how competing visions of tragedy operate to inform the way in which tragedy has been defined, and also the kinds of tragedies that examine the most coherent scholarly theories of tragedy.
- The Center's website contains a great deal of information about the Bush grant initiatives. Simply go to http://cat.xula.edu/about/grants/bush/.