September 2018

News & Updates

PBEA-PLC Symposium Highlights

The Iowa State University Agricultural Education and Studies Department would like to once again thank all of our visiting colleagues from Africa for their participation in the summer 2018 PBEA-PLC Teaching and Learning Symposium. At the Symposium, we were able to highlight topics suggested by faculty from African universities and focus on the issues that you felt were most relevant and useful in your classrooms. By streamlining our conference we were able to focus on increasing understanding of teaching and learning methods such as improving MCQs (multiple choice questions), developing stronger ALAs (Applied Learning Activities, and growing stronger relationships between students and faculty through peer mentoring. As a way to continue to foster conversation and create deeper connections to the material, the PBEA-PLC newsletter will continue to focus on these topics and any questions that may arise from the material that was presented at the Symposium. 

Dates for travel to South Africa, Ghana, and Uganda are being set, and ISU Ag Ed faculty are creating plans for visiting. During the visit, faculty would like to offer the opportunity to continue to mentor and consult in faculty workshops. 
As potential topics, be thinking about potential possibilities like the samples listed below. These topics were mentioned by our African colleagues during the Symposium, and can be a jumping off point for on-campus consultations and presentations.   
  1. Hands-on with writing test questions
  2. Content Management Systems (essentially a platform for you to post your lecture notes, power point slides, references, uploading quizzes and tests (with automatic scoring), having discussion with students online).
  3. Large lecture classroom techniques (how to break-up lectures, motivate students, etc.)

Stories from the Classroom

Hello to my international friends!

     In my session at the 2018 PBEA-PLC Teaching and Learning Symposium, we were able to talk about important teaching content items like creating lesson plans, developing delivery methods, and designing quality assessment. All of these components are definitely required elements for quality teaching, but we also were able to talk a little bit about that invisible, hard-to-define element that takes teaching from good to great. In our discussion, we were able to highlight the different domains of learning including the cognitive (knowledge and experience), psychomotor (physical skills, and the affective (feelings and emotions). In our discussion, we found agreement that teaching in the cognitive and psychomotor domains can be easy as they focus on content, but that meeting  the needs of the affective domain can be more complex and time intensive. 

       To that end, I would like to share a story from my own teaching that reminds me to focus on teaching the individual and not the process. Last spring, I had a family enroll a 10 year old student in private one-on-one riding lessons with me. The student had very little horse experience and her parents warned me in advance that this little girl had some developmental issues, but we did not go into great detail. Bearing this in mind, I assigned the student to groom and ride a smaller pony to keep her from being overwhelmed. She did demonstrate some anxiety in her first lesson, but we quickly overcame the fear and had a successful ride. Over the course of several months, this student really blossomed and improved her riding in leaps and bounds. Aside from some slight hesitation over trying new, more challenging material, this student responded like any 10 year old girl. She laughed. She smiled. She fawned over her pony.
        Eventually, the day came that I needed to move this student onto a different pony to continue to challenge her learning. My student completely shut down. She sat down on the bench and cried for an hour over what I considered to be a small change. My lesson plan was in shambles. I felt that I was wasting her parents hard-earned money by not spending that hour in the saddle. I was left with the choice of caving to the tears and allowing her to ride her old pony, or to let her cry and stick to my guns about the new pony. The extreme reaction over this change in her riding was alarming to say the least, but in my gut, I knew that caving would not be the answer despite her emotional turmoil.
      The next week when my student arrived, her father pulled me away from the student while she was grooming and putting her saddle on. I was certain that I was about to be berated for my teaching and for my insistence that she try this new pony. Instead, I was met with a tearfully thankful father. He began sobbing and hugged me saying that in the year since his family had adopted this little girl, she has had almost no emotional reactions to anything. To this family, this little girls tears were a breakthrough. He went on to say that the only time that his little girl showed emotion of any kind, be it sadness or joy, was when she talked about horses and her weekly lessons with me.
     The point of this story is that despite my trepidation, in this situation, teaching the student and not the content was the right choice. Through further discussion, it was explained to me that this little girl had spent most of her life in the foster care system. Change for this child was particularly traumatic. Learning to deal with small changes and even big changes has been a hurdle for this family. In this scenario, focusing on the affective domain allowed her cognitive and psychomotor skills to grow. She did successfully ride a new pony the following week, and ended her next lesson in smiles and gratitude for the opportunity to make a new friend.

     In my teaching career, I find that I have been frequently confronted with the reality that teaching the person allows me to improve my processes. I have worked with children with developmental delays. I have coached former prison inmates. I have taught veterans and abuse survivors to develop new stable relationships. In all of my teaching, I have never found a student who was not worthy of my time, patience, and consideration. I would encourage all of my colleagues to continue to recognize that each difficult student has a story, but it is our responsibility to teach with consideration for the person over the process. 

    I hope that sharing this quick story has brightened your day as it did mine! Many happy thoughts sent your way!

Miranda Morris, Graduate Assistant
Iowa State University Agricultural Education and Studies


You Wanted to Know.... 

Check out this great video from produced by Creative Commons on the Learning Domains. 
What are the three domains of learning and how should we teach them?

Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning highlights the three domains of learning that teachers should consider when designing lesson plans, delivery methods, and assessment tools in the classroom.
  • Cognitive
    • Lecture
    • Discussion
    • Case Studies
  • Psychomotor
    • ALAs
    • Labs
    • Practicals
  • Affective 
    • Mentoring 
    • Questioning
    • Communicating
Awareness of the three domains allows a teacher to build lessons that create meaningful learning in students at all levels of thought. By engaging an individual's thoughts, actions, and mind, the effective teacher is able to foster learners that retain information, activate higher level processes, and engage critical thinking skills. In essence, the student becomes prepared for the challenges they will face in their careers outside of the classroom environment.

Applying the Material

 How can the affective domain be used in your classroom? Attached is a sample activity to engage your students emotional intelligence and create meaningful connections in the classroom. 

At the website, the authors recommend Seven Simple Strategies to engage the affective domain and build those relationships that enhance the students learning experience. 

1. Get student culture. In other words, get to know what is of interest to your students. Striking up a conversation with someone who shares our interests is a great way to develop relationships!
2. Share your life. The professor title comes with a certain weight of responsiblity and an inherent hierarchy, and while we certainly encourage students to respect that gravity, it is also important that they not fear the differences in stature in the classroom. Sharing an antecdote or a story from your life is a great way to build rapport with your students!
3. Rock the First 5 Minutes. Take the first 5 minutes of your class to rock out with your students! Feel free to engage in idle chit chat. A professor who walks into a classroom and immediately jumps into lecture can be intimidating to students! 
4. Tackle problems together. Let students know that they have an ally in the classroom. Find a way to make yourself a mentor and a voice of reason in the classroom. One of those unwritten rules of teaching is that teachers are required to wear many hats. Some days you may be a counselor, a motivator, or even a cheerleader!
5. Show them you care. Showing your students you care is one of the best ways to engage them in your courses. By offering active listening, greeting them by name, and patiently listening to their course concerns, a teacher can create a feeling of importance that lets a student know they matter and they can be successful. 
6. Bury the Past. Each cohort of students you teach will change. The student body is an ever-changing, ever-evolving entity. Teach the students you have now, not the ones you had a year ago or even twenty years ago. 
7. Keep smiling. One of the hardest things we can do as teachers and as human beings is to smile when we do not feel it. Regardless of your personal feelings or the stress of the day, put a smile on your face. Amazingly, putting a smile on your face, especially when you do not feel like smiling, can actually change your perspective and improve the day. 

Taking this list at face value can feel like a lot. Choose one item from this list and focus on it every day for a semester. See what kind of changes result in your classroom. See it as a scientific study. Compare and contrast your experiences with your expectations. Let your good attitude and your smile do the work for you! Create meaning in the classroom by engaging your student's affective, emotional domain. Good luck!

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