In Megan Dobro’s Virology class, students chose a “pet virus” that they will study in depth for the semester. The first assignment was to create a physical model of their virus. She has no artistic requirements; it just needs to be accurate. Megan gave ideas such as using clay, paper mache, found objects, or origami using online guides. Students presented their models to the class and showed how they represented the virus’s symmetry, structural components, and maybe dynamic processes. More important than the product, the process of creating a seemingly silly model got students to think more deeply. Looking only at two-dimensional pictures of viruses, students may not have realized that the viral shell has a complex, beautiful symmetry. Or that there are specific ways each viral component fits together, and that tells you something about which pieces rely on each other. Or that viruses are relatively simple particles and it’s amazing they wreak so much havoc on the world. Students might spend 15 seconds looking at a picture, but in the process of making a virus, they take time with their virus, studying all of the shapes and possible ways it can be built and taken apart. They start to ask questions that introduce advanced concepts. See the results of this year’s class models.
There are 2 new resources for your Div II and III students that bring together resources, tips, event announcements, and reminders. Have your students visit the sites at:
First year students have the new programs page (sites.hampshire.edu/newtohamp).
There are prizes for students who visit. If you have tips you would like to post on the Div 2 and 3 sites, send them on to me at email@example.com.
The Transformative Speaking Program has resources available to you and your students this semester. Please visit the program’s Moodle page at http://hamp.it/tspmoodle for more information about the highlights listed below:
1. You can request that a peer mentor meet with your students to work on developing skills for class discussion or presentations.
2. You can request that a team of peer mentors lead a speaking workshop for your students, during or outside of your class time.
3. Students can self-select to meet one-on-one with a peer speaking mentor to work on their general speaking skills or a particular discussion or presentation.
4. You can nominate students to apply to work as peer mentors for next year (application deadline Oct 17 and rolling thereafter).
5. You can request that a peer mentor be dedicated to work exclusively with you and students in your 100-level spring 2015 course in any discipline.
Questions? Contact Laura Greenfield at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Koehler sent me a link to an article from Inside Higher Ed about a faculty member who banned student emails unless they were emailing to schedule an appointment with her. On first glance, it seemed drastic and un-Hampshire-like to Karen (and to me). But the purpose was to get students to use office hours. We do want students to come see us, to discuss their ideas, to get help if they need it, etc.
I am left with these questions:
- Does email interfere with the face-to-face interactions?
- When do we want students to come to our office hours and when would we rather a quick email?
- Do students understand what office hours are for? (someone told me that they had a student who thought “office hours” meant faculty were working in their office and could not be disturbed)
- Are there other ways that are less drastic to get students to come to talk to us?
- When do we want them talking to each other rather than coming to us?
- What should a student try on their own before coming to us?
- How do we communicate these ideas to students?
Clearly, there is no one rule about office hours and office hour use. In addition to varied needs of students, we as faculty will have different wishes for how we communicate with students.
If you would like your students to use your office hours more effectively, consider the kinds of assignments you might give your students – maybe particularly starting with tutorial students – that help them to understand your role as a mentor and that gets them to work together. For example:
- Give an early writing assignment and have students sign up for office hours to discuss their paper with you
- Have students peer edit their papers and then bring the revision to you to discuss in office hours
- Have a specific type of communication that your require in person (e.g. No excuses for late assignments by email – you must come talk to me to discuss the work and negotiate a new deadline)
What Karen shared is that she has a project in her new NEH “Enduring Questions” course that she is teaching next semester for new Div II students where the students have to pick an object in the library, (book, film, photograph), find a faculty person they think would be interested in it, and interview them (which of course means finding their office hours…)
Be creative and send your ideas to email@example.com