Collaborative Humanities Redesign Project
Humanities faculty members from Elon University, Rockhurst University, Park University, and the University of Kansas have shared ideas for improving student understanding in college-level humanities courses.
The interdisciplinary collaboration began with common exploration of the goals of both courses and majors, followed by the identification of challenges in helping student acquire a deeper understanding of humanities topics and the forms of inquiry and evidence characteristic of humanities scholarship. Throughout the first academic year (2014-2015), the 27 faculty participants critically examined their current course designs and student performance, identifying areas for improvement and developing specific plans for innovations to include in the course.
During the second year (2015-2016), participants have implemented innovations in low- and high-stakes writing assignments, individual and team projects, in-class learning activities that go beyond presentation, and out-of-class student writing and collaboration. Each instructor has carefully examined the quality of student understanding on a key course assignment to decide how well the innovations have worked to enhance student learning. In September 2016 we had our third all-project gathering, and we exchanged course portfolios describing the inquiry activities. This writing retreat allowed people to get feedback on their work and comments on their representations of and reflections on their work. Great progress was made in the development of written accounts of their ongoing inquiry and in plans for enhancements and refinements of their courses in this current academic year.
In the final year of the project (2016-2017), participants will continue the development of their redesigned courses, and they will further analyze student learning resulting from their innovations. As they capture the results of their inquiry into learning, participants will present their work on the project website, in publications, and at a public conference in June 2017.
During the first two years of the project, participants from all four campuses met virtually and in person to brainstorm ideas, discuss teaching strategies, share results, and provide support for each others' projects. We believe that this interdisciplinary, cross-campus collaborative inquiry will sustain the innovations begin by participants, and the visibility of this communities’ body of work will provide a useful and generative model for other humanities faculty members. The project was developed within Research Action Cluster 1 of the Bay View Alliance (BVA), and primary support comes from the Teagle Foundation. Additional support was provided by the BVA with funds from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
CHRP Portfolio Gallery
As a culmination of their work, CHRP participants created e-course portfolios. Click on the portfolios below to learn more.
Engaging the Whole Musical Self Through Expert Music Analysis Processes — Robin Attas, Elon University
Redesigning a Core Course Project to Improve Language Skills and Intercultural Competency — Silvia Byer
Developing Intercultural Competence and Critical Thinking in Intermediate French - Olivia J. Choplin
Expanding Understanding of Musical Forms Through Scholarly Writing — Brad Osborn
Promoting Critical Thinking and Analysis in an Undergraduate-Level Course — Maya Stiller
Robin Attas is an Assistant Professor of Music. She teaches courses in the Materials of Music and Aural Skills sequences, as well as COR 110: The Global Experience. Her research interests focus on popular music, particularly including rhythm and meter, form, text-music connections, and the analysis of popular music of other cultures, especially those of Central America and the Caribbean.
Jane Barnette is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and teaches courses in history, theory, dramaturgy, and adaptation. Her production work includes acting, directing, and dramaturgy for original adaptations of literature, classic and contemporary plays, and musical theatre
Jane is focusing on THR 302/702: Adaptation, Drama, Performance (cross-listed as ENG 327), which is a class about adaptation dramaturgy. This course centers on 3 case studies, all of which are connected to the Lawrence/Kansas City/neighboring community, and provides an opportunity for the students enrolled to participate in theatre production as dramaturgs. It is a discussion-based course and it features the use of collaborative Prezis, Twitter-based participation (at #Adapturgy), and public scholarship by means of digital dramaturgy.
Silvia Byer is an Associate Professor of Modern Languages, as well as Park University's Modern Languages Coordinator. Her research interests range from applied linguistics to studies on renaissance writers.
Silvia is redesigning SP201: Intermediate Spanish, which is designed to help students continue the process of mastering communicative skills as well as developing an awareness of the diverse cultures of the Hispanic world. Currently, speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills are cultivated in an interactive atmosphere. By the end of the semester, students should develop a level of proficiency that will allow effective communication in everyday situations.
Olivia Choplin is an Assistant Professor of French. She teaches all levels of language, literature, and civilization courses in French. Her main research interests lie in Québécois literature, particularly immigrant literature in Québec, contemporary French and Francophone theater, French theater and national identity throughout history, and ancient Roman literature and culture.
Olivia is redesigning French 222: Intermediate French 2, the fourth semester of the language sequence. In this course, students solidify their understanding of grammatical concepts through the study of authentic French-language texts including folk tales, articles from the media, and a short novel. Students study grammatical concepts outside class and then use those concepts discuss the literary and journalistic texts in class. Students have a grammar manual to study the rules, but then are asked to identify and think about linguistic features of the texts they are reading for the course so that the grammatical concepts are always contextualized in authentic ways.
Katie Fischer Clune is an Assistant Professor of Communication. She teaches courses in journalism, advertising, public relations, mass media, and communication. Her areas of research are gender, communication, and leadership, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Katie plans to redesign Introduction to Journalism. The course, which is a prerequisite for subsequent journalism courses, provides a basic survey of the field and instruction in the fundamentals of journalistic writing, interviewing, and editing. Currently, students prepare for class by completing required readings. Class time is a mix of lecture, discussion, activities, and in-class writing and editing.
Brandon Essary is an Assistant Professor of Italian. His research interests include Boccaccio, the Decameron, matrimony in medieval and early modern Italy, and the lives and works of Petrarch and Dante.
Brandon plans to experiment with the interaction between in-class time and outside-of-class conversation hours. As a part of the Italian language-learning experience, he has for years offered weekly conversation hours in Italian and required all students in ITL courses to attend once per month. The sessions have been open-theme and conducted exclusively in Italian. He is curious to experiment with assigning specific topics to some of the sessions and conducting at least one of them in English. Ultimately, he would like to offer students the possibility of engaging Italian language and culture in a more profound, intellectually stimulating way, especially at the elementary, first- and second-semester levels, of Italian instruction.
LaKresha Graham is an Assistant Professor of Communication. She teaches public speaking and communication and intercultural communication. Her research includes intercultural identity (social class, race, ethnicity, and gender), volunteerism, and socioeconomic and social justice
LaKresha plans to redesign CT 3850: Intercultural Communication. The course is taught through a combination of lecture and discussion, with more focus on lecturing. It covers topics such as the foundations of the intercultural discipline, intercultural theories, identity, cultural adjustment, intercultural relationships and intercultural competence.
John Kerrigan is an Associate Professor of English and teaches a wide range of literature and writing courses. Much of his scholarship has focused on Irish literature, and much of his career has been spent working with students and faculty in various ways to improve teaching and learning, including through the lenses of writing and of Jesuit/Ignatian pedagogy.
John plans to redesign his Introduction to World Literature course which explores a range of texts from the early modern period (1600s) to the present, drawn from a variety of world cultures. The course emphasizes critical reading, thinking, and writing skills, and the interconnections between these, and employs strategies for active learning (e.g., marking in the book) and engaged learning (discussion, small group work).
Stacey Kikendall is an Assistant Professor of English and Managing Editor for InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching. She regularly teaches introductory composition courses as well as a variety of literature courses. Her primary research interests are nineteenth-century British literature and issues of gender, empire, and vision.
Stacey plans to redesign EN 201: Introduction to Literature. The course aims to help students develop skills in reading, interpreting, and evaluating literature, and surveys some of the major concerns and movements in literacy criticism. Readings include poetry, short stories, and at least one play and one novel. She usually chooses the readings with an overarching theme or topic in mind; for example, past topics have included obsession, relationships, and madness. While the course is required of all English majors and minors, it is also listed as an elective for the liberal education core.
Ketevan Kupatadze is a Senior Lecturer in Spanish. She teaches Spanish courses at multiple levels, as well as General Studies courses. Her main research interests are: the development of advanced writing abilities in students learning Spanish as a second language, and the literacy based approach to language teaching.
Ketvan often teaches 300-level advanced reading and writing courses in Spanish that are considered to be transitional from the study of linguistic skills to their use in meaningful contexts that develop students’ critical thinking and cultural competence. She will focus mainly on being able to answer the following questions: how much and what kind of work can be completed outside of the classroom? How can she use technology and online tools to better support the development of students’ reading and writing skills in Spanish? Whether it is using a Moodle forum to promote conversation inside and outside of the classroom, editing written work as a group, or developing reading and writing skills with the help of technology, She would like to design her instruction so that both hers and the students’ time is used as wisely and as appropriately as possible with (online) tools that are available.
Jonathan P. Lamb is an Assistant Professor of English. He specializes in early modern literature, with interests in Shakespeare, book history, and rhetoric.
Jon plans to redesign ENGL 332: Shakespeare. Although it has enjoyed some success, particularly among English majors, he wants to enhance the course's quality and rigor. Specifically, Jon wants to integrate greater engagement with secondary research, more course content (it’s pretty slim now for several reasons), several new digital components, more effective assignments, and a new exam structure.
Glenn Lester is an Instructor of English and also serves as Program Coordinator for First-Year Writing courses. He writes fiction, short and long, and his research interests include writing program administration, writing assessment, creative writing pedagogy, contemporary American fiction, and intersections between writing and nursing pedagogies.
Glenn plans on redesigning EN 106: First Year Writing Seminar II: Academic Research & Writing. The course is the second in a two-semester first year writing sequence, and uses rhetorical concepts and a process approach to teach students about common academic writing tasks. Currently class time consists of guided writing, conferencing, revising, editing, and discussion. He plans to try flipping the classroom: designing online pre-research activities to be completed before class so that class time can be used to engage in library research in a collaborative environment.
Kristina Meinking is an Assistant Professor of Classical Languages. She teaches courses in the beginning and intermediate Latin sequence, Introduction to Classical Studies, Magic and Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World, Classical Mythology, and Culture of Greece/Rome. Her research interests include Late Antique religion, politics, and intellectual history as well as Latin pedagogy and Roman topography.
Kristina plans to work on Latin 121: Elementary Latin I. Students learn the fundamentals of Latin grammar and Roman culture through a completely reading-based textbook (Orberg’s Lingua Latina), an inductive method that allows most class time to be on spent reading and re-reading each chapter, extracting grammatical principles, and composing in Latin. Students advance only when they have demonstrated their mastery of a set of three chapters by earning a mark of 85% or above on what Kristina calls a ‘Challenge.’ After the first challenge, students work in smaller groups of peers who are learning the same set of material and the instructor’s time is divided between all the various groups that exist in any given class meeting.
Brad Osborn is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory and teaches courses in pedagogy, introductory music theory, and music analysis. His research focuses on using classical ways of hearing — ways we might hear Beethoven, for example — to analyze recent rock music that defies conventions of the rock style; he is keenly interested in applying these analytical models to Radiohead.
Brad is redesigning MTHC 410: Tonal Forms, which looks at the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven in terms of how small thematic units — singable tunes lasting between two and sixteen bars — can be combined to form much larger pieces, such as multi-movement piano sonatas and violin concertos. The course is an upper-level elective for music majors that also serves as a remedial class for incoming graduate students in music. Prior to class, students typically read a textbook chapter and complete analyses of excerpts which increase in length and complexity over the course of the semester. Along the way, they test their comprehension and creativity by composing pieces in the style(s) of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, which are performed and critiqued in class. Their grade is largely determined by four short writing assignments and a final exam.
Adam Potthast is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair of Liberal Studies, where he coordinates the general education program. His main research interests are in ethical theory, philosophy of technology, professional ethics, and issues in the meaning of life.
Adam is redesigning a course called The Meaning of Life; the basic topic is the human condition and how to understand it. He commonly covers God-based and other variants of religious views as well as existential and more secular modern views of the meaning of life. Currently the class includes some group work, lecture, and discussion.
Amy Rossomondo is an Associate Professor of Spanish and serves as Director of the Spanish Language Program; she is also a Faculty Fellow at KU's Center for Teaching Excellence. Her current research and pedagogic focus is the Acceso project (acceso.ku.edu), an open access, Web-based platform for intermediate-level Spanish study that structures critical exploration of culturally diverse Spanish-speaking work to promote foreign language development and awareness, critical cultural literacy and opportunities to relate to and reflect on differing cultural perspectives.
For her CHRP project, Amy leads a team of Spanish instructors that also includes Iris Hauser, Julia Murray, and Nathan Presell. The team is redesigning large enrollment, third- and fourth-semester courses to take advantage of a new SCALE-UP style classroom and interactive technologies outside of the classroom in order to improve student learning in several domains: deeper understanding of the course’s cultural content, improved written communication skills, and a more constructive relationship between students and instructors.
Cecilia Samonte is an Associate Professor of History. She teaches survey courses such as World Civilizations and U.S. History, as well as advanced courses in U.S. women's history, protest movements in 1960s America, U.S. immigration history, and modern China and Japan. Her research interests include women's travel writing, U.S. diplomatic history, and Philippine-American foreign relations.
Cecilia plans on redesigning the survey course History 2500: History of the United States II. She plans on developing approaches that allow students to recognize how meaningful historical knowledge and interpretation emanate largely from an understanding of multiple perspectives. She is also thinking of developing activities that would enable students to use primary sources and assume different positions on common historical issues. Ultimately, she believes that such approaches would encourage students to comprehend the complexity of the past, engage more closely with historical texts, and collaborate more productively with their peers.
Debra J. Sheffer is a Professor of History. She was a 2007 Fellow at the West Point Summer Seminar in Military History. Her research interests include military history, U.S. history, and the history of indigenous peoples.
Debra plans to redesign LE300F: War and Culture, an integrative, inter-disciplinary, general education capstone course. Currently the course has a number of sections, each with a different topic, but with common core learning outcomes, a common core assessment, and a project and presentation component. Debra's goal is to increase student engagement in the course. To do so, she plans to reduce or remove lecture, which will allow for increased in-class participation and for students to interact more intimately with the material and to more fully understand the relationship between war, culture, and their own lives.
Maya Stiller is an Assistant Professor of Korean Art and Visual Culture, teaching courses on Asian art history. Through an interdisciplinary approach that includes Art History and Buddhist Studies she explores visual interpretations of Buddhist faith and practice, tensions between Buddhist patronage and social identity, local interactions between Buddhist and Confucian cultures, and regional practice and religious pluralism at a pilgrimage site named Kŭmgangsan in early modern Korea.
Maya is redesigning HA 591: Buddhist Art of Korea, which is an introduction to the Korean tradition of Buddhist visual culture and its relationship to the history, doctrines, and practices of East Asian Buddhism. Students analyze early Korean Buddhist architecture, illuminated scriptures, paintings and sculptures inspired by the Flower Garland and Perfection of Wisdom traditions. Student assessment included slide tests and a mid-term and final exam.
Shawn Tucker is an Associate Professor of Art. In addition to courses in fine arts, he also teaches courses in General Studies and as part of the Elon College Fellows program. His research interests include aspects of laughter and the nature of humility and pride.
Shawn plans to work on Fine Arts 171: Laughter in the Fine Arts. In this course students have to prepare an assignment for each class period. In response to that assignment students take a brief online quiz before coming to class and prepare a short 300 word writing assignment called the “Coolest Thing I Learned.” These short papers lead to small discussions as class starts and are the point of departure for our subsequent class discussion. While Shawn is somewhat pleased with the quiz and the short writing assignment, he’d like to refine them and explore other ways to further “flip” the course. He also wants to work on how to encourage students to learn from one another, especially outside of class, and engage post-class methods to extend and reinforce learning, possibly drawing on social learning.
Kim Warren is an Associate Professor of History. She teaches courses in women's history, citizenship and American identity, race and gender relations, identity development in the African Diaspora, as well as social, civil rights, and reform movements; she regularly offers a service-learning in her upper-level women's history course. Her research interests include gender and race in African American and Native American studies, the history of education, and United States history.
Kim plans to work on HIST 319: History, Women, and Diversity in the United States, a mid-level history class that counts toward the History major/minor as well as the Diversity Core Requirement for non-majors. The course is designed thematically and chronologically in order to expose students to a broad range of definitions of diversity, gender, and feminism. Assessments include in-class exams, a short paper, and Blackboard posts in advance of group discussions. Since there is no separate discussion section, in-class time includes large-group discussions.
Jennifer L. Weber is an Associate Professor of History, teaching a broad range of undergraduate and graduate classes, including the antebellum South and slavery, the Civil War, American military history, the presidency, and historiography and theory. Her research interests include the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, 19th century U.S. history, political, social, and military history, war and society, and the American presidency. Before becoming an academic, Jennifer was a journalist and political aide in her native California.
Jennifer is redesigning HIST 412: The Civil War to have a greater focus on primary documents and to help her students develop better critical thinking skills. Most in-class time consists of traditional lectures, supplemented by documentary clips. The course reading currently includes a mix of primary and secondary sources, all book-length, plus one novel; these readings and the lectures focus more deeply on important topics, while the main textbook lays out the big issues. While this approach generally has worked well, Jennifer is interested in experimenting with other methods that might make this a more meaningful class for her students where more of the material sticks.
Pam Gordon, Emma Scioli, and Tara Welch are working together to redesign CLSX 148: Introduction to Greek and Roman Mythology. The course is taught in three different formats: in-person, online, and hybrid (mixing in-person and online meetings). In this redesign, each instructor is focusing on different aspects of the course. Pam is interested in helping students integrate their developing understanding of Greek and Roman myths and storytelling with the art of reading images; she wants them to understand how images reflect and shape not just one story, but long traditions of variation, innovation, and competition between storytellers. Emma, who teaches the course in all three formats, is taking stock of what works best for learning and assessment in each version and is developing ideas for how to borrow and adapt these features in the other versions. Tara wants to develop assignments to help students read sensitively and be better able to recognize that there is no one, or definitive, plot to a myth and to identify evidence for the biases in ancient and modern sources.
Pam Gordon is a Professor of Classics. She teaches Greek and Latin at all levels, as well as courses on Greek and Roman literature in translation. Her research interests include gender studies, the cultural history of Epicureanism, and the Roman reception of Greek culture.
Emma Scioli is an Associate Professor of Classics. She teaches Latin at all levels in addition to courses on Roman civilization and literature in translation. Her research focuses on the Latin language and Roman literature from the 1st centuries BC and AD; she also has a strong interest in the intersection of visual art and text, in particular where these meet in textual descriptions of visual experience, such as accounts of looking at works of visual art and dream narratives.
Tara Welch is a Professor of Classics and serves as the Classics Department Chair. She teaches Latin at all levels as well as courses in Roman and Greek literature and civilization. Her research focuses on ancient Roman literature and culture, particularly in the period of transition from the Roman Republic to the Principate, particularly the intersection between literature and other forms of discourse, such as philosophy, architecture, and mythology.
Beth Innocenti and Dave Tell are working together to redesign COMS 232: The Rhetorical Tradition, which is a survey course in the history of rhetoric. By the conclusion of the course, students should be able to read rhetorical theories and explain how they address major issues involved in thinking about rhetoric — who gets to practice rhetoric, why, how, in what contexts — and to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Currently the course covers 4 different views of rhetoric: as civic debate, winning friends and influencing people, communicating truth, and wisdom speaking copiously. The major assignments are papers asking students to show they understand an author’s position on major issues in thinking about rhetoric; the details or prompts vary each semester. Throughout the semester the students complete take-home assignments that involve practicing the kinds of skills they will need in order to write the papers.
Beth Innocenti is a Professor of Communication Studies, where she regularly teaches the undergraduate course The Rhetorical Tradition, bridge courses American Rhetoric: Puritans to 1900, and Rhetoric of Women's Rights, and the graduate courses Neoclassical Rhetorical Theories and Research Methods: Historical and Descriptive. Her teaching and research interests are in the history of rhetoric and argumentation, particularly eighteenth-century rhetoric, early American public address, and norms of argumentation.
Dave Tell is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies. He teaches courses in the history and theory of rhetoric, contemporay theory, the latter thought of Michel Foucault (1969-1984), rhetoric and spatial theory, public sphere theory, American public discourse, and public address. His research interests are in the history and theory of communication and the intersections of rhetorical theory and cultural politics.