2014-15 Summaries of Fellows’ Pedagogical Projects

2014-15 Summaries of Fellows’ Pedagogical Projects

Reposted from MetroCITI.

Written by MetroCiti Staff.

Alison Bach

Instructor of English

Hudson County Community College, Jersey City, New Jersey

Course: Composition I

 "Building Awareness of Audience: Moving from Writer-Based Prose to Reader-Based Prose in College Composition I"

This project focused on the core concept of writing for a particular audience and sought to engage students in deep consideration of both what one writes about and for whom one writes. Students engaged in a class activity about the idea of audience, wrote essays for particular audiences throughout the semester, and carried out peer review exercises in which they reviewed each other’s work from the perspective of a specific audience. Students showed increased awareness of audience, which in turn improved their attention to proofreading, use of language, and organization of written work.


 Sue Behrens

Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Marymount Manhattan College, New York, New York

Course: Language and Culture

"Understanding Standard Language Ideology"

The project addressed challenges that students enrolled in an introductory sociolinguistics course often face as they engage with the concept of Standard Language Ideology (SLI). SLI suggests that in society, a process of indoctrination is at play whereby certain languages or dialects become elevated over others, creating and reinforcing a hierarchy. For the project, students initially engaged in a free-write activity in which they reflected on their own experiences of language. Drawing on this activity, they created their own (initial) definitions of Standard English. Students then worked in pairs to review New York Times articles reporting on real world language discrimination and presented their reviews to the class. After the presentations, students were asked to reflect on their earlier free-writes and were invited to make adjustments to their initial definitions of Standard English based on new (or emerging) understanding. Through this project, and subsequent work on the idea of Standard English throughout the semester, students showed increased ability to articulate the effect of elevating Standard English above other dialects.


 Scott Carlin

Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science

LIU Post, Brookville, New York

Course: Human Geography – Man, Environment & Technology

"What is Prosperity?"

This project focused on the notion of prosperity as a core concept in an introductory class on human geography.  The concept of prosperity was threaded, purposefully, through the semester to help students understand global interdependence.  Students were asked periodically, through the semester, to examine their own visions of prosperity in several ways. Students’ ideas about prosperity were continually examined through class discussions in which Dr. Carlin helped students to compare different perspectives on prosperity (individual, national, and global among others). Students engaged in discussion and writing exercises that connected back to their week one core reading, “Ch. 3: Redefining Prosperity” in Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. Through discussions and reflections on the course materials, students were able to view the idea of prosperity from different perspectives, rather than from a single – individualistic – vantage point.


 Sara Danzi-Engoron

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Geology

CUNY – Queensborough Community College, Bayside, New York

Course: Principles of Biology (for non-science majors)

"Biology Today: The Scope of Life"

 A fundamental aspect of biology is the concept of life. This project positioned students to consider what it means for something to be alive, and especially, to identify the characteristics of living things. Within class students looked closely at images of plants and animals that the instructor projected on a screen, and discussing what they saw, they developed a list of characteristics of living things. They recorded that list on the board. They then reviewed and edited the list together, thereby working toward agreement through class-wide analysis. In concluding, the professor compared the class-generated list with the views of scientists presented in the textbook. The comparison revealed close agreement between what students concluded and what text authors pointed out. This exercise was one of several that sought to help students grasp scientific ways of thinking and knowing, and scientific concepts, in comparison to non-scientific approaches and ideas.


Hanae Haouri

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey

Course: Chemistry and Society

"Making Chemistry Relevant to Students’ Lives"

This project sought to make basic chemistry principles relevant to students’ lives and to increase students’ interest in learning basic facets of chemistry. The professor incorporated articles about real-world contexts of chemistry from Chemical and Engineering News and ChemMatters. In one exercise, students reflected on articles about nutrition and food labels through a writing exercise, and then followed with a class discussion. Then the class engaged in a discussion about a visual presentation from the text, In Defense of Food. The professor posed questions that prompted the students to consider basic chemistry in the dual – and connected – contexts of individual health and the health of planet Earth. As they examined issues bearing on their everyday lives through a chemistry lens, students discussed several key ideas in chemistry.


Sarah Hoiland

Assistant Professor of Behavioral & Social Sciences

CUNY – Hostos Community College, Bronx, New York

Course: Introduction to Sociology

 "Exploring Conflict Theory through Popular Television and Film"

This section of introductory sociology is a service-learning course that partners with a community-based organization that works with people who have criminal justice system involvement; it is also a Women & Gender Studies affiliated course. To help students consider core sociological ideas, the professor uses three key sources – film, a comedy-drama series, and the textbook – to facilitate discussions surrounding conflict theory and power. She draws from the popular Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, as well as from the film Iron Jawed Angels, both of which deal with incarcerated females and situations that illustrated both institutional structures and processes and individual power. Students consider specific interactions and events in the film and the clip and connect them back to specific passages in the textbook through whole group discussions, small group activities, and Blackboard Discussions.


Zivah Perel Katz

Associate Professor of English

CUNY – Queensborough Community College, Bayside, New York

Course: Introduction to Literature

"Connecting Course Content to Student Lives Through Reflection"

This project sought to expand the ways in which students reflect on their service-learning work and apply that work to their lives. The service-learning project asked college students to teach middle school students about poetry, a project designed to deepen the college students’ understanding of poetry. As the college students carried out their service project of designing and conducting poetry workshops at a local middle school, the professor led them in reflecting on how doing their project deepened their understanding of the poems that they were teaching. This reflection took several forms throughout the semester, including sharing their insights with partners and the class and writing about the service learning project. Additionally, towards the end of the semester, students wrote about how teaching a particular poem helped them to more deeply understand the poem itself, as well as the relevance of poetry to their lives. These reflective exercises that surrounded the service learning project helped students to more deeply engage with the course literature.


Eryn Klosko

Professor of Geoscience and Department Chair, Physical Sciences Department

SUNY – Westchester Community College, Valhalla, New York

Course: Earth Science

"Science vs. Belief-Based Systems"

 In this project, the instructor sought to help students grasp the significance of the scientific method, including how it differs from reliance on belief-based systems and pseudoscience. This project occurred across the semester, including multiple class discussions and exercises. Early in the semester, the professor described differences between the scientific method and supernatural and belief-based systems. She had students generate a list of beliefs and then discuss them, differentiating between what can be tested and observed, and which are based on faith. Then, while honoring faith-based beliefs, the professor described how her course would focus on phenomena that could be observed and tested. This idea was returned to throughout the semester, including a homework assignment whereby students reflected on the “scientific” evidence presented within a program on mermaids on Animal Planet and a later class session wherein the students reviewed examples of experiments to determine if they were scientific by discussing observable and testable data versus opinions and beliefs. Through weaving the idea of the scientific method across the course, the students’ gained a stronger understanding of the importance of the scientific method.


Petra Symister

Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences & Human Services

CUNY – Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, New York

Course: Social Psychology

"Thinking Like a Social Psychologist: Using “Milgram on Trial” to Teach the Social Psychological Perspective"

Within this project the professor’s goal was to position students to approach situations through various psychological perspectives, and in particular, to encourage students to think like social psychologists. To do this, the professor designed an in-class mock-trial based on the famous Milgram study on obedience. The trial allowed students to immerse themselves in the key idea of the fundamental attribution error or the tendency to overlook situational effects when explaining the behaviors of others. After students watched the original video of the study, the professor asked students to imagine a scenario in which the shocks in Milgram's experiment were real and a subject shocked a confederate to death and was subsequently brought to trial.  The professor then organized the class into groups for the prosecution, defense, and jury.  In doing so, students needed to consider whether guilt could fairly be attributed to the person being “tried” without considering the influence of the larger situation bearing on that person.


Kate Wolfe

Assistant Professor of Behavioral & Social Sciences

CUNY – Hostos Community College, Bronx, New York

Course: Abnormal Psychology

"Teaching the Process of Psychological Assessment in Abnormal Psychology"

This project seeks to examine psychological assessment practices through Socratic questioning, brainstorming, and the use of case studies as a way of bringing some of the course’s key subject matter to life. Students completed two exercises in which they matched descriptions of assessment methods with the names of those methods. Building off this exercise, students matched specific psychological tests with the categories of assessment methods. Finally, the professor posed questions about the exercises to the students to understand how they made sense of the subject matter and their engagement with it through the exercises. When asked to evaluate the exercises, students liked the competitive aspect of the group exercise, liked working with other students, and indicated these exercises helped them think about the material from a different perspective. In future courses, the professor plans on bringing in case studies, as way of building on the in-class activities.

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