Category Archives: teaching

Congratulations Dr. Jan Newberry -2014 AAA/Oxford Teaching Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology

The American Anthropological Association and Oxford University Press are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2014 AAA/Oxford Teaching Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology is Dr. Jan Newberry.

Below are some comments directly from the American Anthropological Association:

“Beyond the books and the box” as one student describes her, Dr. Newberry has cultivated fields of possibility and opportunity for her students to grow and mature as scholars and persons in the world. Beginning at Bryn Mawr, a career choice that did not include full-time teaching in a recognizable department, Dr. Newberry’s dedication to boundary crossings for collective educational purposes derived from her career in anthropology continues in western Canada at the University of Lethbridge.  The student letters supporting Dr. Newberry’s nomination for the teaching award share several themes that course through her history as a professor, mentor, and colleague.  All the letters of nomination cite Dr. Newberry as having great passion for anthropology and what it can offer undergraduate students. Every letter makes the point that her ‘teaching methods’ drew these and numerous other students into the world of anthropology.  In addition to her skill and dedication to teaching all nominators also admire and value Dr. Newberry’s way in the world as a way worth considering, even emulating – strong testament indeed for this dedicated and engaged teacher.  Her students at Bryn Mawr College, well-prepared for academic success, and her students at the University of Lethbridge in the Canadian prairies, many of whom are the first in their families to attend university, agree that her special amalgam of passion, disciplinary dedication, cross-disciplinary prowess, and her belief and faith in teaching informed by scholarship have made a difference in the lives of her colleagues, her students, and her ever-growing community. It is this kind of difference-making that especially qualifies Dr. Newberry for the AAA/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology.

Sobering Lessons Learned When Shadowing Students

In a recent article posted by Grant Wiggins (A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned), he posts the experiences of a former high school teacher who has entered a new role as a high school teaching coach. The article is a reflection piece that explores the experiences of the teaching coach shadowing 2 students for 2 days. What the teaching coach is exposed to, is an eye opening experience.

The post has a fully detailed explanation of the two day shadowing event, and although the experiences being talked about are in the context of a high school experience, many of the key learning experiences from the teaching coach are relevant to any level of teaching. Below is a summary of the key learning experiences the teaching coach identifies in the article, as well as some exemplars of how instructors here at the University of Lethbridge are trying to provide a more enjoyable and engaging classroom experience to our students.

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Teaching a “Non-Course”

Written by Jennifer Mather

In the Spring of 2007, I was on sabbatical, so that means I was not teaching courses, but I had been teaching…a non-course. This is a reflection on that experience.

Why teach a course when I didn’t have to? Well, I commonly have several students who do the work-academic combination of individualized Applied Study courses. As Christmas and my sabbatical drew closer, I could see that two students, each of whom was working towards graduate training in Speech and Hearing Disorders and both of whom were working with populations at risk for speech problems, would benefit from individualized instruction on language. At that time, no professor in Psychology knew much about or taught a class connected to linguistics. My research background of ethology, the observational approach to animal and human behaviour, meant that I could show them a view into understanding speech, particularly in conversation. So we agreed to do a non-course. We met once a week, and I took them from a list of defects they might encounter through sentence construction, cognitive difficulties and non-verbal expression to the massive complexity of multi-way conversation.

I found the experience stimulating and yet restful. They were eager to learn, as this was a foundation for their future work. We bounced ideas off each other, some coming from their other classes, some from me and some that we built together. Between our weekly meetings they completed assignments. Why restful? There were no papers to mark, no hassle about grades. I didn’t evaluate them at all, ironically since they worked extremely well.

What did the students say when I asked them for feedback at the end of the semester? One commented that she had given up telling her friends about it, they would ask why she was working when she wasn’t getting any course credit. What a comment on our system! Both of them loved the focus on themselves and what they wanted to know, but admitted a bit of a yearning for structure, for extrinsic as well as intrinsic rewards. Again, what a comment on our system, but I too expect no extrinsic reward. I’m on sabbatical, I’m not supposed to be teaching.

If I were an Oxford-style Don, this is how I would teach. I would love it. Working with students to help them educate themselves, what could be better? I admit it’s probably not cost efficient, though what is the cost efficiency of teaching a whole lot of students something they don’t really want to know, in order that they can promptly forget it? One of the students commented wisely that something would be missing in a whole university career of learning in this style. She said, in indirect praise of our General Liberal Education requirement, that things came up in classrooms or through courses that you didn’t necessarily want to take that nevertheless surprised and enriched you. So maybe I couldn’t be an individualized tutor for all of my teaching, maybe only some of it…but what a rich reward that would be.

Horizon Report 2014 is out. Is the UofL keeping up with the trends?

If you are not familiar with the Horizon Report, it is a report on new trends, challenges and technologies in education. The New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE work together to output this report every year. They follow trending strategies, technologies, and even challenges in the education sector. Not only is the report a wealth of information, but these two groups provide a forecast about which trends or technologies will be upon us and how far away they are from appearing in our educational institutions.

You can download the report in it’s entirety here.

Below is a brief over view of the trends that were identified in the report. These trends are often looked at as future trends, but often times they are considered future trends because we are seeing the changes occur in our educational environments already. It is important to keep that in mind as we read these trends and evaluate our own institution. Identified with each key trend below are examples of what the great teaching community here at the University of Lethbridge is already doing to address some of these trends.

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No Institutional Divide When it Comes to Good Teaching

All I Needed to Know about College Teaching I Learned as a High School Teacher” is an essay written by Adam Golub published in the online journal Hybrid Pedagogy. Adam was a former high school teacher who continued his teaching career right into the college and university classroom. The essay highlights the key pedagogical habits that Adam has learned and sustained over the years.

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