3:20 – 3:50 – Session 4 – Day 1

Wanting our students to read

Presented by: Karen Manarin

Room: Stewart

Facilitated by:  Christina Tortorelli

Building a better U involves taking action to encourage our students to read in ways appropriate for our disciplines. In this presentation I briefly outline some of the barriers involved, including underprepared students, unclear expectations, and conflicted faculty, before describing findings from a research study where 32 faculty members from different institutions completed an online survey and 14 were interviewed about their attitudes towards reading and reading compliance. These faculty members teach undergraduates and graduate students in very different disciplines, from music and literature through science and business, but they are united in their concern that students do not read effectively. Their attitudes towards reading compliance, however, vary as do their descriptions of what successful reading looks like in their particular contexts. However, most participants do not tell their students what successful reading looks like. In the second half of the session, I ask participants to reflect on the types of reading they want their students to do and whether their assessment practices support or hinder reading.

Year One in the RLLC

Presented by: Alice Swabey and Jessie Loyer

Room: Sinclair

Facilitated by:  Ana Colina

As the “new library smell” begins to fade on the Riddell Library and Learning Centre, we have begun to reflect on how things have gone and where we are headed with MRU’s library facilities and services. This building was intended to be a hub for teaching and learning – has it lived up to our expectations? Our session will explore how students and faculty are experiencing the RLLC in its first year, along with our successes, lessons learned, and areas for improvement we have encountered so far in the building. Participants will have a chance to share their own experiences teaching, learning, and working in the RLLC.

Presentation Requests/Setup: We will need a projector and screen.

The “Culture of Celebration” at MRU: What are the Implications for Open Inquiry?

Presented by:  Frances Widdowson 

Room: Palliser

Facilitated by:  Erik Christiansen

In a recent newspaper article, Dr. Mark Mercer, the President of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS), asserted that a “culture of celebration” is becoming more common on Canadian university campuses. Unlike a “culture of disputation”, where critical inquiry and open discussion are encouraged, a “culture of celebration” assumes that people should be “confirmed and strengthened in their identities”. This impedes open inquiry, according to Mercer, as disputing how people perceive themselves could be seen as disrespectful, or even an attempt to invalidate their humanity. This presentation will outline the extent to which a “culture of celebration” has developed at Mount Royal University. Using a number of examples, it will be shown how demands to celebrate various identities can have a negative impact on the acquisition of knowledge and the development of theoretical understanding. This is because openly exploring certain research questions has the potential to challenge the assumptions of the political demands of certain identity groups. Academics who don’t come up with findings that support the political aspirations of these groups will be condemned for being a supporter of oppression. This leads many academics to steer clear of these contentious areas, and to abandon their study to activist groups that do not strive for objectivity.

Nothing is more Dangerous than an Educator with a Rubric (a.k.a. Rubrics Suck)

Presented by: Katrin Becker

Room: Dawson

Facilitated by:  Yuhuan Wang

Love rubrics? They are expected now for virtually everything. But, how useful are they, really? Where’s the evidence that they actually improve learning? Creating a good rubric is hard. Many people don’t write their own, instead copying and pasting ones written by others. Wiggins founded the concept of rubrics for assessment. In 2013, he wrote, “Alas, as I wrote in my last post, as with other good ideas, there has been some stupidification of this tool. I have seen unwise use of rubrics and countless poorly-written ones: invalid criteria, unclear descriptors, lack of parallelism across scores, etc. But the most basic error is the use of rubrics without models. Without models to validate and ground them, rubrics are too vague and nowhere near as helpful to students as they might be.” I can create a good rubric for most programming assignments. Why? Because I’ve seen 1,000’s of solutions. Can I do that for a brand new assignment I’ve never done before? Heck no! The rubric is a summary that generalizes from lots of samples. If you don’t have those samples, you can’t create a valid rubric. This presentation provides an overview of rubrics, and invite participants to share their experiences.