The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching
The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching

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Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, Volume 20, Number 1 (2009)

Articles in this issue:

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PDF fileTranslational Research in Higher Education--From Theory to Practice and Back: A Message From the Editors

Richlin, L., Wentzell, G. W., & Cox, M. D.

PDF fileUsing the Disorienting Dilemma to Promote Transformative Learning

Herbers, M. S., & Mullins Nelson, B.

A disorienting dilemma is a catalyst for change in perspective that may culminate in transformative learning. The authors analyze three activities in higher education that created disorienting dilemmas--a field trip, a service-learning experience, and study abroad. Results indicate that a disorienting dilemma can prompt students and faculty to reflect on assumptions about self and society, leading to deeper self-understanding and increased awareness of faulty assumptions reinforced by one's culture. Reflection and discussion are necessary to develop skills for managing change and, ultimately, to take responsibility for making sense of experience. The process of change is unique to each individual. Educators can assist students in navigating changes in perspective by incorporating strategies that encourage them to think more deeply about and draw from experience. Reflecting on their own learning can enhance educators' ability to foster change in their students. Mezirow's (1978, 1991, 2000) theory of perspective transformation offers a model for understanding and implementing the process of change.

PDF fileBringing "Pedagogical Assumptiveness" to the Surface: Establishing the Context for Teaching Innovation

Greenfield, D.

Despite increased attention to diversity in higher education, educators are often unaware of the hidden cultural assumptions they bring to the classroom that impact the epistemological and pedagogical frameworks from which they operate. The disparity between our worldviews and those of our students can erect barriers to student performance. The author introduces the concept of pedagogical assumptiveness to explain this problem and presents a theoretical framework to examine the mechanisms that perpetuate it. Finally, he offers practical suggestions to help educators internalize a more inclusive and effective paradigm for the classroom.

PDF fileConnection Learning: A Framework for the Development of Teaching

Sadler, I.

The author explores how student learning can be enhanced through the appropriate development of teaching skills. In his review of elements of best practice drawn from the literature, conference material, and action research, the concept of "connectivity" emerged as a recurring, implicit term. From this evolved the concept of "connection learning," which is based on the principle that learning is about creating links between concepts, ideas, and experiences. Connection learning creates an innovative way to think about teaching and learning based on student-centered learning and conceptual change. The author proposes a framework aligning these overarching conceptions of teaching with daily teaching and learning strategies.

PDF fileThe Evolution of Educational Objectives: Bloom's Taxonomy and Beyond

Fallahi, C. R., & LaMonaca, F. H., Jr.

It is crucial for teachers to communicate effectively about educational objectives to students, colleagues, and others in education. In 1956, Bloom developed a cognitive learning taxonomy to enhance communication between college examiners. The Bloom taxonomy consists of 6 hierarchical levels of learning (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation), which has endured through different applications and adaptations. Two more recent taxonomies have addressed issues not included in Bloom's taxonomy or its subsequent adaptations. Shulman (2004) designed a non-linear, 6-level table of learning that begins with knowledge/understanding and proceeds toward the higher-level functions of engagement/ motivation, performance/action, reflection/critique, judgment/ design, and commitment/identity. The 6 learning categories in Fink's model (2003)--foundational knowledge, application, integration, human dimension, caring, and learning how to learn--build upon each other and encourage educators to integrate significant learning experiences into their curricula. The authors review these taxonomies and conclude that validation of Fink's taxonomy in psychology education is warranted.

PDF fileCreating Significant Learning Experiences in a Large Undergraduate Psychology Class: A Pilot Study

Fallahi, C. R., & LaMonaca, F. H., Jr.

The authors redesigned a Lifespan Development course using Fink's (2003) taxonomy of significant learning and measured changes across his six domains: Knowledge, Application, Integration, Human Dimension, Caring, and Learning How to Learn. Using case studies and group work, 151 undergraduates completed identical pre- and post-tests that measured their ability to apply and integrate basic course content, empathy, self-learning, and other advanced learning skills. Students improved significantly in all but the "Learning How to Learn" domain. The findings from this pilot study demonstrate that Fink's taxonomy enables the measurement of changes in domains of advanced learning. Studies by the first author comparing significant learning in traditionally designed courses versus courses developed according to Fink's taxonomy are ongoing.

PDF fileLearning to Learn: What Matters to First-Year College Students

Damico, A. M., & Quay, S. E.

This study reveals that first-year college students are more impacted by the process of learning to learn than by the content of what they are learning. Specifically, adapting to college-level academic expectations, adopting successful study habits, and coping with the tendency to procrastinate were found to be critical to students' academic development during their first year of college. Grades received during the first year helped students determine the amount and type of effort they put into their academic work. Acquiring new knowledge from course content was identified as an academic turning point more in the students' second term than in their first. Based on the survey results, the authors provide specific recommendations to faculty who teach first-year students.

PDF fileAn Assessment of Electronic Portfolios Across the Curriculum

Sircar, S., Fetzer, R. C., Patterson, J., & McKee, H. A.

Electronic portfolios can enhance student reflection and the in- tegration of learned concepts as well as demonstrate their overall proficiency to peers, teachers, and potential employers. The authors administered pre- and post-questionnaires in several classes among diverse disciplines to gauge students' perceptions of e-portfolios and e-portfolios' effect on student learning. Results showed that students valued e-portfolios for both academic and professional development, became more comfortable with using computer technologies, and interacted frequently and positively with professors in the e-portfolio creation process. Obstacles to successful implementation disciplines are also discussed.

PDF fileProgrammatic Assessment of Information Literacy Skills Using Rubrics

Warner, D. A.

The author describes the programmatic assessment of her medium-sized institution's library instruction program that focuses on the information literacy skills taught in the research component of the required English composition course. A research journal kept by each student serves as the assessment tool, and multiple rubrics are used for data collection. Assessment results are analyzed and used to improve teaching, resulting in improved learning outcomes. The author concludes that information literacy programs can benefit from establishing such a framework in their introductory courses.

Editorial Staff, Editorial Board, and Reviewers for this issue:


Milton D. Cox, Miami University

Executive Editor:

Laurie Richlin, Claremont Graduate University

Managing Editor:

Gregg W. Wentzell, Miami University

Editorial Board:

David Baume, Independent Consultant, Milton Keynes (UK)

Angela Brew, University of Sydney (AU)

Marianne Cotugno, Miami University

Douglas Eder, Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville (Emeritus)

Sheryl Hansen, Ohio Learning Network

Patricia Mabrouk, Northeastern University

Barbara Mossberg, California State University - Monterey Bay

Torgny Rox, Lund University (Sweden)

Mary Deane Sorcinelli, University of Massachusetts

Scott Simkins, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Reviewers for This Issue:

Mary Allen, Pinole, CA

Sharon Andersen, Kwantlen University College

Patricia Backer, San Jose State University

Jeanne Ballantine, Wright State University

Judith Bordin, California State University - Chico

Delmas Crisp, Wesleyan College

Diane Delisio, Miami University

Douglas Eder, Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville (Emeritus)

Ruby Evans, University of Central Florida

Paul Ferber, Vermont Law School

L. Dee Fink, Norman, OK

Alice Flores, CalStateTEACH

Peter Frederick, Heritage University

Mick Healey, University of Gloucestershire

Mark Hogan, Bridgewater College

Sharon Hollander, Georgian Court University

Patricia Mabrouk, Northeastern University

Susan Radius, Towson University

Lydia Soleil, University of California, Irvine

Lynne Sorenson, Brigham Young University

Randy Swing, Association for Institutional Research

Shannon Van Kirk, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo