October 2 – 5, 2013
Raleigh Convention Center
North Carolina
Critical Transitions in Teaching and Learning

Morning Workshops (9:00 AM – 12:00 PM)

Looking at Art: Making Teaching and Learning Visible (Marian McCarthy and Daniel Blackshields)

This 3 hour workshop proposes to work with participants in a real gallery setting (if possible*) to view works of Art from the perspective of how we learn. The workshop will draw on Project Zero approaches to arts education  at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and its focus on Project Muse (Museums United with Schools in Education) and on Entry Points to Learning (Gardner 1999) derived from Gardner's Multiple Intelligences theory and its integration with a pedagogy for undertanding (TfU). The session will also harness the experience of the facilitators in leading such workshops in Galleries in Ireland, mainland Europe and in the USA at previous ISSoTl conferences (Hamilton , 2012 and Milwaukee, 2011). The significance of the topic lies in its SoTL potential: the 'looking' in this context is intentional, investigative and reflective and is used to identify and chart the nature of an authentic learning experience in real time. Last year we explored the gallery as a liminal space. This year we focus on the gallery, on looking at art, as begetting  a potential critical transition where learning occurs for the teacher as learner which, in turn, should make all the difference in designing future learning experiences to maximise student engagement and understanding.

The workshop will begin with a theoretical introduction to the Project MUSE and the idea of making teaching and learning visible . Participants will then be introduced to a variety of questions that interrogate a given work of art from various perspectives. The workshop will then invite participants to view a work of art from the perspective of a variety of Entry Points and perspectives, in a real gallery context. Participants will work in groups to select a work of art to view and critique, this will take at least 15 minutes. Each group will then look at the selected work for at least 30 minutes in a collaborative context.

Participants will then be invited to reflect on this process as a learning experience. It is hoped that transitional moments will be foregrounded in this experience: People learn in different ways, hence to some in the group it will be strange to view a painting from this perspective. Since people bring different perspectives, intelligence strengths and disciplinaary backgrounds to the work of art, there will be a multiplicity of interpretations and perspectives emerging. What do we learn from such diversity? How do we learn to work together as a group, learning to listen, to negotiate and to compromise? What does the experience tell us about how our students learn and how can we use this experience to make a difference to their learning in the future? How can we make the most of this reflective 'looking'in SoTL terms? If we are to shift from focusing on students as subjects/objects to students as partners in the learning, then it is important to re-create an authentic learning environment and scenario so that we can map out those critical transitions in teaching and learning which make all the difference to student engagement and expression.

*It is intended to use a real gallery setting and to travel on the Raleigh bus to this setting. However, digital reproductions will be presented for exploration in the conference setting, if necessary.

Bibliography informorming the literature and methodologies of the workshop:

  • Blackshields , D. (2009) The Game is Afoot! A pedagogical case for the Sherlock Holmes Investigative Model(SHIM) as a tool to scaffold students'problem solving performances with economics. Dissertation: University College Cork.
  • Blackshields, D. (2010) Making Connections for Mindful Enquiry: Using Reflective Journals to Scaffold an Autobiographical Approach to Learning Economics. In B. Higgs, S. Kilcommins and A. Ryan Making Connections: Intentional Teaching for Integrative Learning. Cork: NAIRTL, UCC.
  • Davis, J. (1996) The Muse Book: A report on the work of Project Muse, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Project Zero.
  • Gardner, H. (1982) Art, Mind and Brain: A cognitive approach to creativity. New York: Basic Books.
  • Gardner, H. (1988) Challenges for museums: Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Hand to Hand , 2 (4), 1, 4-7.
  • Gardner, H. (1989) Zero-based arts education: An introduction to Arts Propel. Studies in Art Education:A Journal of Issues and Research, 30 (c)71-83.
  • Gardner, H. (1990) Art education and human development. Los Angeles: The Getty Center for Educaton in the Arts.
  • Gardner, H. (1999) Project Zero: Nelson Goodman's legacy in arts education.
  • Gardner, H. & Perkins, D. (1994) The mark of zero. Harvard Graduate School of Education Alumni Bulletin, 34 (1) 2-6.
  • McCarthy, M. (2010) The Arts in Education as an Integrative Learning Approach. In Making Connections: Intentional Teaching for Integrative Learning. Eds. B. Higgs, S. Kilcommins and Tony Ryan.  Cork: NAIRTL, UCC.
  • O'Neil, S. (1996) The MUSE guide: a training manual for using MUSE tools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Project Zero.
  • Perkins, D. (1994) The intelligenct eye: Learning to think by looking at art. Santa Monica, CA: The Getty Centre for Education in the Arts.
  • Project MUSE: Museums Uniting with Schools in Education (1995) The Generic Game. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Project Zero.
  • Simon, D. (1998)The Entry Point QUESTS: Constructing Understanding in the Visual Arts. In The Project Zero Classroom : Views on Understanding. Eds. L Hetland and S. Veneema.
  • Tishman, S. and Wise, D. (1999) Thinking through the Arts. In  The Project Zero Classroom: New Approaches to Thinking and Understanding. Harvard: Project Zero.
  • Winner, E., Hetland, L., Sheridan, K. and Veenema, S. (2007) Studio Thinking: the Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. New York: Teacher's College Press.

Agile Faculty: New Collaboration Strategies for Teaching and SoTL Research (Rebecca Pope-Ruark)

Significance: How often do we assign group projects in our classes only to be disappointed when we receive results that seem pieced together at the last minute? How often in our own research does it seem like our collaborators leave work until the last minute or aren’t engaged with the process? As professional writing and rhetoric scholar Rebecca Burnett recently said, “Collaboration is NOT intuitive,” yet we often assume that our students, and even our own research teams, know how to do it effectively. But trust issues, overscheduling, and lack of reliable project management strategies often impede successful collaboration for students as well as faculty.

How can we model good collaboration for our students in our own research? How can we implicitly organize our courses to introduce authentic collaboration experiences for our students? How can we actively teach students effective collaboration and project management strategies, even when those skill sets are not the primary content of the course? How can we frame SoTL research projects that both exemplify and study collaboration and project management issues that impact both research teams and student groups?

In this workshop, participants will learn simple and effective time and project management strategies borrowed from the web software development world that can be used in teaching and SoTL research projects to increase engagement, accountability, and commitment. These “agile” strategies empower teams to self-organize all project activities, articulate and visualize discrete project tasks, chunk tasks into short goal-oriented time-boxes, and consistently plan and reflect on progress as a team. Participants will learn how to use the Scrum framework to enable students to take ownership of their own learning in the classroom and to support continuous, iterative progress on large-scale research or service projects. For smaller or shorter-term projects, participants will learn how to implement the Kanban system of using a simple whiteboard and sticky notes to visualize work and limit work in progress to encourage productivity. These strategies can also be used by SoTL researchers to study collaboration and project management across disciplines as well as improve the ways we manage our own research collaborations.

Facilitator Experience: I have been using Agile practices in my own classes for five years and have attended professional Scrum training and professional development workshops over the last three years. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only researcher currently publishing on how Agile practices can improve student collaboration and project management learning outside of the computing sciences and how these practices can also be used in faculty development and SoTL work. I have published three pieces on the subject in peer reviewed journals and have another under review in addition to an in-process faculty development book proposal.

Learning Goals:

  • to introduce participants to simple Agile collaboration and project management strategies
  • to empower participants to see collaboration and project management as important skills to both practice and model for our students regardless of discipline
  • to prepare participants to approach multiple collaboration situations with confidence and useable strategies for success especially for SoTL research collaborations

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the workshop, participants should be able to

  • Articulate the core practices and values of Agile strategies as related to successful teaching and research activities
  • Choose aspects of Scrum and Kanban that can be implemented in their teaching and SoTL research projects
  • Implement Agile strategies successfully to organize a class or SoTL research project.

Interaction Plans: One of the key guidelines for Agile practices is to make the work visible. To play with this concept in the workshop, I will guide the participants in two visualization activities. First we will work together to plan a class using specific concepts from Agile frameworks such as sprints, backlog grooming, retrospectives, etc. Once we have planned the course we will walk through a typical semester while I throw wrenches into the works to show the participants how to respond with agility to unexpected changes (and, therefore, be able to model this ability for students). In the second activity, we will jointly plan a collaborative research project for ourselves using the Kanban system to articulate and visualize all our research activities, assign preliminary activities, and plan for the unexpected. The only supplies I need for these activities are a large wall space or whiteboard, large sticky notes, and Sharpies. After each activity, we will discuss the potential benefits and challenges of the strategies for teaching and SoTL research.

Workshop Foundations: As noted above, I have been using Agile strategies to successfully organize my project-based classes, research, and service projects for over five years. Below is a list of my publications, relevant Agile resources, and articles about collaboration which form the basis for my workshop approach.

  • Anderson, D.J. (2010, December 10). Principles of the Kanban method [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://agilemanagement.net/index.php/Blog/the_principles_of_the_kanban_method/
  • Beck, K., Beedle, M., van Bennekum, A., Cockburn, A., Cunningham, W., Fowler, M., Grenning, J., … Thomas, D. (2001b). Principles behind the Agile Manifesto. Retrieved from http://www.agilemanifesto.org/principles.html
  • Benson, J., & Barry, T.D. (2011). Personal Kanban: Mapping work | Navigating life. Modus Cooperandi Press.
  • Bruffee, K. (1999). Collaborative learning: Higher education, interdependence, and the authority of knowledge. Baltimore, MD: The John’s Hopkins University Press.
  • Burnett, R.E., White, C.I., & Duin, A. Hill. (1997). Locating collaboration: Reflections, features, and influences. In K. Staples and C. Ornatowski (Eds.), Foundations for teaching technical communication: Theory, practice, and program design (pp. 133-159). Greenwich, CT: Ablex.
  • Cohn, M. (2011). User stories, epics, and themes [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/blog/stories-epics-and-themes
  • Frederick, T.A. (2008, December). Facilitating better teamwork: Analyzing the challenges and strategies of classroom-based collaboration. Business Communication Quarterly, 71(4), 439-455.
  • Freedman, R. (2009, June 16). The roots of agile project management [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-manager/the-roots-of-agile-project-management/1491
  • Kniberg, H. (2009). Kanban vs. Scrum: A practical guide. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/RossC0/kanban-vs-scrum
  • Pope-Ruark, R.; Eichel, M.; Talbott, S.; & Thornton, K. (2011, Spring). Let’s Scrum: How Scrum methodology encourages students to view themselves as collaborators. Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education.
  • Pope-Ruark, R. (2012). We Scrum Every Day: Using scrum project management framework for group
  • projects. College Teaching, 60(4), 164-169
  • Schwaber, K. (2004). Agile project management with Scrum. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press.
  • Schwaber, K., & Sutherland, J. (2011). Scrum Guide. Retrieved from http://www.scrum.org/Portals/0/Documents/Scrum%20Guides/Scrum_Guide.pdf
  • Sutherland, J. (2012). Agile values and principles. Retrieved from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd997578.aspx

Disarming Faculty Resistance to Taking SoTL Seriously (Craig E. Nelson)


The ultimate purpose of SOTL is to increase significant learning. For this to happen faculty must change their teaching to better correspond with SOTL results. This is probably the most crucial transition toward more effective teaching and learning. But, rather than being persuaded by compelling evidence many faculty resist making major changes (Biggs and Tang 2007, Bok 2007, see Hake 2013 for a review).

How can we modify our interactions and our presentations to more intentionally help faculty transcend the cognitive and affective factors that keep them from trying more effective, research-based approaches? Briefly: How can we get well-established results from SOTL used more widely? This is a key missing piece in our collective practice of SOTL.

To this end, we will construct and prioritize lists of reasons that faculty give for not changing and of any additional unstated reasons that we infer and then examine alternative approaches for disarming the resistance. Relevant frameworks include Conceptual Change Theory, Gestalt Switching, Dysfunctional Illusions of Rigor, Fostering Grieving, Learning Theory and Sunk Costs. This will be expanded by our joint knowledge and efforts.


I have given numerous faculty development workshops and many SOTL-based conference keynotes and other presentations and have published 50 SOTL-based papers. My emphasis has been on presenting evidence and on helpful ideas for applying SOTL in the classroom. I gradually realized that evidence and ideas alone are not sufficient to get most faculty to seriously revise their courses. I have gradually recognized some of the ways in which faculty resist evidence and have been exploring ways to counter this resistance. Faculty responses have clearly shown that some were more effectively challenged. Recently, I have become more deeply conscious of what I was doing and more intentional about deploying strategies. In addition to its benefits for other participants, this session will expand, sharpen and critique my ideas.


By the end of this half-day workshop, participants will have:

  1. Examined written summaries with citations for at least six helpful frameworks.
  2. Understood several important ways in which faculty resist changing their teaching in response to SOTL.
  3. Understood one or more strategies for countering each major form of resistance.
  4. Shared their own experience on forms of faculty resistance and their ideas on countering them.

By the end of this half-day workshop, participants will have:

  1. Identified ways that their own colleagues resist modifying their teaching in response to well-established findings from SOTL.
  2. Examined their own thinking to see if they might still have vestiges of some of the same attitudes.
  3. Explored a variety of ways of more intentionally helping faculty transcend their resistances.
  4. Evaluated the potential usefulness of various approaches and selected ones that they are ready to apply in presentations, in interactions, and in their own thinking and writing.

Engagement Throughout: Participants repeatedly will write and then compare, add and synthesize both in small group discussion and collectively.

1. Opening Activities: List, prioritize and discuss reasons faculty give for not changing.

2. Frameworks and Applications for Fostering Change: Still in discussion mode, explore possible ways of dealing with major issues. I will provide written summaries with citations for at least six helpful frameworks (above) and can explain these and their applicability as seems appropriate (mostly as brief comments). Four examples:

  • Misconceptions & Conceptual Change Theory: Perhaps the single biggest barrier to taking teaching improvement seriously is our investment as faculty in good v bad student explanations of differences in performance (Biggs and Tang, 2007). This can be seen as a naïve conception that fails when we compare alternative learning designs. Extensive research has focused on helping people to replace naïve ideas with better ones (Duit 2009, Duit and Treagust 2003). Applying conceptual change may alter our activities and how we ask faculty to process examples. Nelson (2012) lists several approaches to conceptual change. Crouch et al. (2004) provide a classroom example.
  • Gestalt Switching: Changing focus from differences among students to differences among learning designs fostered as a gestalt switch. This is a slight restatement of key ideas from Biggs and Tang (2007).
  • Dysfunctional Illusions of Rigor: Nelson (2009) summarizes several of these including coverage, fairness and grade inflation and cites key examples of SOTL that counter them. I have found it useful to help faculty acknowledge these as illusions and consider more realistic ideas.
  • Fostering Grieving: Perry (1970), Kegan (1982) and others emphasize that major conceptual reorganizations typically require grieving. As with most traditional teaching, my initial learning designs were a major cause of students’ low grades and were unintentionally but strongly biased against students from underpowered backgrounds. I had to grieve for my role in students’ failures in order to fully accept new ways of teaching. Acknowledging my grief and asking faculty to consider theirs sometimes helps them quit defending their current approaches and seriously explore alternatives.
3. Synthesis and Critique: Individually list key take home points and compare in pairs and in whole group. Then list and discuss strengths of the session and suggested changes.


  • Biggs, John & Catherine Tang. 2007.  Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Open University Press.
  • Bok, Derek. 2005. Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More. Princeton University Press.
  • Crouch, Catherine H., et al.  2004. Classroom Demonstrations: Learning Tools or Entertainment? American Journal of Physics, 72:835-838.
  • Duit, Reinders. 2009. Bibliography – STCSE: Students’ and teachers’ conceptions and science education. www.ipn.uni-kiel.de/aktuell/stcse/stcse.html [8,400 Citations]
  • Duit, Reinders & D. F. Treagust. 2003. Conceptual change: A powerful framework for improving science teaching and learning. International Journal of Science Education 25: 671-688.
  • Hake, Richard R. 2013. Evaluating the Effectiveness of College.  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Net-Gold/message/40609
  • Kegan, Robert. 1982. The Evolving Self. Harvard University.
  • Nelson, Craig E.  2009. Dysfunctional illusions of rigor: Lessons from SOTL. To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development. 28:177-192.
  • Nelson, Craig E. . 2012. Why Don’t Undergraduates Really ‘Get’ Evolution? What Can Faculty Do? Pp. 311-347 in K. S. Rosengren et al. Evolution challenges: Integrating research and practice in teaching and learning about evolution. Oxford University.
  • Perry, William G. Jr. 1970. Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years, A Scheme. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.