Associate Professor of Biology & Science Education, St. Cloud State UniversityDepartment Homepage
What are the key issues related to the role of the affective domain in teaching geoscience that you would like to engage at the workshop?
First I need to explain that I am a Science Educator (Ph.D.) with an emphasis in cognitive science and Biologist (BA, MS). Besides teaching I am also very engaged in Faculty Development. My interest and work in the role of the affective domain has been involved both with faculty and students.
A key issue for me in faculty development has been to encourage instructors to create what I call a "psychologically safe" environment in the classroom. This type of instruction involves active learning where students can make mistakes and fail at attempts to engage with the content without fear of "hurting their grades". These techniques allow them to try again, very much in the nature of scientific investigation.
I also believe a key, related issue is understanding how the brain learns. What we know so far is that fear will absolutely block learning and that active learning, motivation and even excitement are essential to life long learning.
I have been engaged with the Creationism/ID vs. Evolution problem for many years. However, I do not believe the answer is to keep pounding away at the science but help the students better understand their own religious traditions. We need to find a why to build that investigation into the curriculum.
Another key issue which involves both biology and geoscience is climate change. It would be interesting to explore the development of a multidisciplinary course for both the ID and climate issues.
What expertise or experience (in study of the affective domain or teaching of geoscience) will you bring to the workshop? How would you like to contribute to the workshop?
As I mentioned above my Ph.D. had an emphasis in cognitive science; in addition to training and a great deal of experience in curriculum and instruction. Very early on in my career I became interested in the role the affective domain had on learning. As I became more involved with faculty development I came to understand how essential it was that as a community of scholars we start attending to the affective domain of faculty as well. I have been greatly influenced by the work of Parker Palmer.
Secondarily, I have a BA and MS in Religious Studies. Just in the past few years I have had the opportunity to start my scholarly journey into the juncture of spirituality and science and spirituality and education. I have found that this is a burgeoning field of solid, scholarly work.
About 12 years ago I had the opportunity to be involved with a multidisciplinary FIPSE funded project. I was able to convince the faculty involved to let global warming be the unifying theme. Our final project we called Earth Summit II generated a great deal of community interest. I was interviewed for MPR and the local paper.
Ten or so years ago I attended the a meeting supported by the NSF concerning Evolution Education. It was held at LSU and hosted by Ron Good and Jim Wandersee. I wrote/edited the "Role of the Affective Domain" for the published proceedings.
I hope that my training and experience can contribute to discussions of curriculum revision and faculty development.
Essay: Life's rich lessons lie in unexpected moments
I had knee replacement surgery this past summer. Since then I have been using a cane when I walk my dogs. The cane is one of those adjustable aluminum ones. A recent late afternoon we were walking our usual route out by the prairie and marshland. It was very cold and very windy. The wind was to my back for the first part of our hike, but we finally reached the halfway mark and we had to turn around and face the wind... I pulled, snapped and stuffed-in until I was satisfied no bare skin was exposed. So I turn... and started the long, cold march back to the car.
That's when it started; a flute sound, like a native wooden flute. Where was that coming from?
After a minute or so I finally realized it was the wind blowing across the open holes in my cane. As I turned it this way and that, or the wind blew harder and then softer, different notes came from my new flute. I played with it all the way back to the car and barely noticed how cold it was.
I, like many educators, have had the experience of teaching a lesson we've taught a hundred times before. It's a good lesson, well structured, easy to teach. But as the class time passes, it feels hollow, soulless. I'm bored with the material and so are the students, though, bless their hearts, they continue to dutifully take notes.
Perhaps halfway through, maybe even only 10 minutes in, we know. We've got to change directions, get off this path and try another. So we pause. The students just stare at us while our minds are racing, trying to think of a new way to go. And then we remember; we love this stuff. Which way does "love this stuff" go? So we turn into the wind and just start walking.
Then it happens, first, just a single note from one student. But then another joins in and another. By the end of the hour, the room is filled with song, one with rhythm and pitch to rival anything Mozart wrote.
And tomorrow I've got to do this all over again. But I know the wind will shift and I can't do today what I did yesterday. However, if I have "The Courage to Teach" we'll create another song, different, but the title will be the same, "I love this stuff !"
"The Courage to Teach" is a book by Parker Palmer.