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On August 21st, I attended Elon University’s 5th Annual Innovation in Instruction Conference. Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, was the keynote speaker. I won’t rehash the details already reported upon by Lauren, but the take-home lesson for me is that we should teach less of an “Information Paradigm” but more of a “Participation Paradigm,” where students can navigate the world and critique and analyze information. In addition, teaching is less about control, and more about enabling your students to become active participants rather than passive observers.

Next, I attended Lauren’s presentation, “Students as Contributors: Teaching Skills While Teaching Content.” There was lively discussion about the influence of social media in business, politics, and education. For more information, check out her presentation here.

I also attended “Evaluating Critical Thinking” by Ed Neal, Director of Faculty Development at the UNC Center for Faculty Excellence. This session provided many practical tips on how to effectively evaluate your students’ critical thinking skills. He provided many examples of the types of exam questions which assess different levels of learning in Bloom’s Taxonomy. He also provided examples of grading rubrics, which are effective tools for encouraging higher level performance among your students.

Last, I attended “Teaching the Future” by Jeffrey Coker, Assistant Professor of Biology at Elon University, and Janna Anderson, Associate Professor in Communications at Elon University, which was already reported upon by Lauren. I was especially interested in the method in which Dr. Coker taught his Introductory Biology class. Dr. Coker has an interesting approach to teaching biology for non-science majors, where he focuses on “Ecological Change,” Cellular Change, and ” Genetic Change.” In his class, students design, implement, and analyze and present their own experiments. In addition, students design plausible biological systems for the future and plan their implementation. Some examples of student projects are “Eradicating human influenza” and “Human resistance to antibiotics.”

I am so glad that I attended this conference, because I learned many lessons about effective teaching that I plan to directly apply to my LIB220 course this fall and in future classes, as well.