University of Wisconsin System

Faculty College 2008

[Photo from last year's Faculty College.]

May 27-30
Richland Center, WI

Sponsored by the
Office of Professional and Instructional Development

Faculty College provides an annual opportunity for UW System faculty and academic staff to unite in concentrated study and discussion aimed at improving undergraduate teaching and learning. Some 100 participants attend three days of intensive, interdisciplinary seminars on topics related to teaching and learning. Each participant registers for two of the four seminars offered.

Application information is available from the Provost's office at each UW institution.

Preliminary Schedule
Seminars: Option One | Two | Three | Four


Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues

Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean, a native of Louisiana and member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, is known internationally for her tireless work against the death penalty. She was instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the issue and in shaping the Catholic Church's newly vigorous opposition to all state executions.

In 1982, she started visiting Patrick Sonnier, a death row inmate in Louisiana's Angola Prison. She became his spiritual adviser, worked to prevent his execution, and finally walked with him to the electric chair. She did the same thing with a second prisoner, Robert Willie. And then she sat down and wrote a book about the experience. The result was Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States (Random House, 1993). The book became a best seller, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and spawned an Oscar-winning movie and an internationally-acclaimed opera. Since 1984, Sister Helen has divided her time between campaigning against the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners. She has accompanied four more men to their deaths. In doing so, she began to suspect that some of those executed were not guilty. This realization inspired her second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions (December, 2004).

Sister Helen is a regular contributor to national and international publications, and has become a recurring presence on major TV news shows. She has received honorary degrees from universities all over the world and numerous awards. She lives in New Orleans and works with the Death Penalty Discourse Center, the Moratorium Campaign and the Dead Man Walking Play Project. She is presently at work on another book, River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey to Death Row.

2008 Preliminary Schedule

Tuesday, May 27
Cash Bar and Dinner:  5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Welcome and Keynote by
Sister Helen Prejean:  7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 28
Chinese Exercises:  7:30 - 8:00 a.m.
Breakfast:  7:30 - 9:00 a.m.
Morning Seminars:  9:15 - 11:45 a.m.
Lunch:  12:00 - 1:15 p.m.
Afternoon Seminars:  1:30 - 4:00 p.m.
Cash Bar and Dinner:  5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Evening Program TBA:  7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 29
Chinese Exercises:  7:30 - 8:00 a.m.
Breakfast:  7:30 - 9:00 a.m.
Morning Seminars:  9:15 - 11:45 a.m.
Lunch:  12:00 - 1:15 p.m.
Afternoon Seminars:  1:30 - 4:00 p.m.
Cash Bar and Dinner:  5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Friday, May 30
Breakfast:  7:30 - 8:45 a.m.
Morning Seminars:  9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Afternoon Seminars:  10:15 - 11:15 a.m.
Plenary:  11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Closing Lunch:  12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Seminar Option One:

What Were They Thinking?!
Using Think Alouds to Open Up Hidden Worlds of Student Learning

Lendol Calder

A class flubs an assignment that was supposed to be "easy." A prodigy in class discussions underperforms on review essays. Library users, warned repeatedly not to do so, still go to Google and select the first website listed. What teacher hasn't wondered: "What were they thinking?!"

If we want to know why students record wrong answers or struggle unsuccessfully with coursework, papers and exams offer little help. But what if you could peek inside students' heads when they work on assignments?

With think alouds, you can. Think alouds are a method for uncovering what standard assessment tools often miss: hidden levels of student insight and/or misunderstanding. The idea behind a think aloud is that if a subject can be trained to verbalize thoughts while completing a task, then the introspections can be recorded and analyzed to determine what cognitive processes were employed to deal with the problem. In fields such as reading comprehension, composition, mathematics, chemistry, and history, think alouds have been used to identify:

But think alouds also have exciting classroom potential, as teaching tools for demonstrating desirable/undesirable cognitive moves for specific tasks.

Workshop participants will learn the mechanics of setting up think aloud protocols. They will perform think alouds on each other, practice coding think aloud transcripts, and discuss how to use think alouds as both assessment tools and as classroom exercises for deeper understanding.

Lendol Calder is associate professor of history at Augustana College, Illinois. His 1999 book Financing the American Dream: A Cultural History of Consumer Credit was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "deliciously seditious" for the ways it inverted common assumptions about the meaning of credit in American life. But since becoming a Carnegie Scholar in 1999, he has been working with others in the emergent field of the scholarship of teaching and learning to invent and share new models for teaching and learning at the post-secondary level. His 2006 article in the Journal of American History, “Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey,” led to his being named to the Distinguished Lecturer Program of the Organization of American Historians. His current project examines the pitfalls and opportunities of teaching history as a form of moral inquiry.

Seminar Option Two:

Education for a Sustainable Future:
“Ecological Thinking” as a Liberal Art

Stephen Woolpert

How will today's students learn to contribute to the common good in a world whose natural systems are under growing threat? Environmental problems challenge academia to confront taken-for-granted patterns of thinking and acting. Although we teach our students to become literate in reading human language, they may remain illiterate in reading the language of the world around us.

Based on findings from undergraduate course port-folios, this seminar focuses on how to teach students to "think ecologically" and how to assess their proficiency in doing so. Ecological thinking is a liberal art: a set of integrative skills that reach across the boundaries of academic disciplines. It is a habit of mind which recognizes that individuals are members of larger social and biotic communities, and therefore leads students to consider social and environmental problems to be at least partly their own.

Pedagogies and learning outcomes related to ecological thinking will be presented. Attendees will engage in learning activities designed specifically to develop proficiency in two dimensions of ecological thinking:

  1. Systems thinking – the consideration of an issue, a topic, or a problem in its larger context. "Concept maps" and similar activities promote this skill by asking students to determine how the pieces of a system fit together. These techniques help them focus on patterns, relationships and connections in the subject matter under study.
  2. Biophilia – E. O. Wilson's term for humans’ affinity for the natural world. Biophilia thrives on local knowledge of, and direct relationships to, the places where people live and work. Students develop their appreciation of it by engaging in "pedagogies of place," learning activities that treat the campus' landscape and operational practices as subjects of inquiry.

By learning to think ecologically, students are being educated for a sustainable future. They are also fulfilling the public purpose of liberal education by increasing their capacity for civic engagement in the communities in which they will live, learn, and work.

Stephen Woolpert is Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Professor of Politics at Saint Mary's College of California. Dr. Woolpert received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University. Over the past 25 years he has taught courses in Public Law, American Public Policy, and Political Theory. He is the senior editor of Transformational Politics: Theory, Study, and Practice (SUNY Press). His most recent publication is "The Greening of America's Sacred Ground: The Ecological Praxis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama" in Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously: Spiritual Politics on America's Sacred Ground (McGraw and Formicola, Baylor Press, 2005). In 2003 he was named Professor of the Year at Saint Mary's College.

Seminar Option Three:

Teaching for Learning:
Rethinking Quality Instruction

Greg Valde

What should every college teacher know about how students learn?
And what should we all know about how to teach?
Are there basic concepts and findings in educational theory and research that might inform our work?
How can we utilize that information to improve the planning, teaching, and assessment practices in our courses?
And are there questions we need to ask and answer before we can really begin to plan an effective course?

Have you ever wondered why others teach the way they do?
Or pondered the difference between merely adequate teaching and excellent teaching?
Have you ever heard of Bloom's taxonomy of cognitive objectives?
Or a taxonomy of affective objectives?
Have you ever wondered about the 3 basic principles of human memory?
Certainly you've been searching for the seven steps in effective traditional instruction.
Or yearned for research-based alternatives to traditional instruction.
Maybe you would like to use the word constructivism in a coherent sentence.
Or maybe you'd just like to sleep better knowing that your objectives and teaching practices are more closely aligned.

These topics and questions will be explored in this interactive and entertaining workshop. A variety of basic concepts and research findings about teaching and learning will be presented and discussed. There will be plenty of opportunity for questions and dialogue, as well as a structured opportunity to apply these principles to revising a selected course. Participants should bring a syllabus, assignments, tests, etc. from one of their courses as they will be provided time and structure to rethink and revise as desired.

Greg Valde is the Director of the LEARN Center and the Teaching Scholars Program and Associate Professor of Educational Foundations at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W). He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the psychological foundations of education. The LEARN Center is the faculty development unit at UW-W, providing an array of teaching and learning enhancement services for the campus. The UW-W Teaching Scholars Program identifies a small group of faculty each year for participation in an intensive teaching and learning experience. Greg is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the College of Education Teaching Award and the university W.P. Roseman Excellence in Teaching Award. His most recently published works focus on the development of excellence in college teaching. He has toured the U.S. widely, including the summer of 1968, when his family bought a new Oldsmobile station wagon and headed west to California. If you've read this far, Greg thinks you really ought to consider reevaluating your reading and life priorities.

Seminar Option Four:

Gathering SoTL Evidence: Methods for Systematic Inquiry into Student Learning

Renee A. Meyers

Many instructors engaged in scholarly inquiry into student learning puzzle over how best to collect evidence that will answer their SoTL research questions. This hands-on, interactive workshop will offer participants an overview of various methods for gathering SoTL data (or evidence). An overview of a variety of methods will be offered, but then the workshop will concentrate more specifically on the particulars of two or three of the methods that best fit participants' SoTL questions. Participants in this workshop should come prepared with a SoTL question for which they plan to gather evidence in the near future. This question should also be submitted to Renee Meyers ( a month prior to the start of Faculty College (by April 25, 2008) so the workshop content can be tailored to participants' methodological needs.

In this workshop, participants will:

Renee A. Meyers is Coordinator of the UW System Leadership Site for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), and Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). She received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Illinois in 1987. Prior to coming to UWM, she taught at the University of Oklahoma for five years. Her teaching interests include both undergraduate and graduate courses in Group Communication and Organizational Communication. She received a Central States Communication Teaching Award in 1989, and was twice a finalist for the UWM Martine D. Meyer Excellence in Teaching Award. Her research interests include investigating the role of communication in cooperative learning groups, as well as the study of small group decision making and argument. She is widely published, with numerous scholarly refereed articles and book chapters, and has received several grants to support her research. Dr. Meyers also serves on the editorial boards of several com-munication and SoTL journals. She was recently Chair of the Group Communication Division of the National Communication Association. Currently, she is engaged in developing a "Certificate in Teaching and Learning" for graduate students at UW-Milwaukee.