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ACM-Teagle Collegium to Present Research Findings at ISSOTL Conference in October

Published: August 14, 2011

Faculty from six ACM colleges who participated in the ACM-Teagle Collegium on Student Learning will present the results of their research on metacognition at the annual conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) in October.

The Collegium, supported by a generous grant from the Teagle Foundation, was a 30-month project aimed at deepening faculty members' understanding of recent research in the cognitive sciences and then testing  that work in the classroom. The ACM project focused on metacognition – that is, "thinking about thinking" and how students "learn how to learn."

Fifteen ACM college faculty, drawn from across the disciplines, designed projects to apply metacognitive principles in their classrooms and to examine how those interventions affected student learning.

A second session at the ISSOTL conference will focus on the value of the Collegium as a faculty development project.

"The Collegium group found that by asking metacognitive questions of students, they became both more aware of their students' learning and increasingly self-reflective about their own teaching practices and effectiveness," ACM Vice President John Ottenhoff observed. "Crucially, they found ways to work together across institutions to create a supportive community of scholars and teachers united by the common language of metacognition."

Taken together, the presentations will highlight ways that the Collegium project has placed ACM faculty and colleges at the forefront of SOTL (scholarship of teaching and learning) efforts in undergraduate classrooms and builds on more than five decades of consortial collaboration.

The faculty presenting their research projects are:

  • Diane Angell, Assistant Professor of Biology, St. Olaf College
  • Kristin Bonnie, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Beloit College 
  • Kent McWilliams, Associate Professor of Music, St. Olaf College
  • Rachel Ragland, Associate Professor of Education, Lake Forest College
  • Steve Singleton, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Coe College
  • David Thompson, Associate Professor of Spanish, Luther College

Ragland and  David Schodt, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Innovation in the Liberal Arts at St. Olaf College, will join Ottenhoff and Dan Bernstein from the University of Kansas on the panel examining the Collegium as a faculty development project.

Bernstein, a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Kansas, worked closely with faculty in the Collegium group at workshops to develop their research projects. His early research focused on human motivation and learning, and more recently he has been studying the development of student understanding in courses with blended face-to-face and online teaching. Bernstein will deliver the keynote address to open the ISSOTL conference.

Although the Collegium's grant-funded activities concluded last fall with a conference on "Understanding Student Learning" at Macalester College, faculty involved in the project have continued with their individual and collaborative research on metacognition and are actively pursuing opportunities to disseminate the results of their research to a wider audience.

For example, several of the conference presenters – Bonnie, Ottenhoff, and Thompson, along with Karl Wirth from Macalester College and Holly Swyers from Lake Forest College – drew an overflow crowd for their session on the Collegium's research last winter at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in San Francisco. A report about that presentation and the project as a whole will appear in the Summer issue of the AAC&U journal Liberal Education.

This year's ISSOTL conference, focusing on the theme of "Transforming the Academy Through the Theory and Practice of SOTL," will be held in Milwaukee, WI, on October 20-23. ISSOTL was founded by a committee of 67 scholars in 2004 to foster inquiry and disseminate findings about what improves and articulates post-secondary learning and teaching. The Society's annual conference draws an international group of several hundred scholars, researchers, and educators from nearly every discipline.


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