Council of Instructors 2012-13

In 2012-13 the Council of Instructors’ meetings were built around the presentations described below.

“Undergraduate Discussion Leaders: Bringing a Small-Group Experience to a Large University Course.”

Chip Aquadro: BioMg1290: Personal Genomics and Medicine.

October 11: 3:00-4:00 p.m.

Chip’s goal in Personal Genomics and Medicine is to reach a large and broad group of students, but also to provide students with a "small class experience” during which students can debate and discuss issues for which there really is NO right or wrong answer.  Chip utilizes a study-group model championed by Wendy Aquadro, Associate Director of Advising in the Office of Undergraduate Biology. Upper level undergraduates lead weekly discussion/debate sections which enhance the students’ understanding of the material presented in lecture. In his presentation, Chip will discuss the study group/section model with a particular focus on debates in which students are assigned positions with which they disagree.

“Scaffolding in the Syllabus:  Building the Skills Needed to Succeed in a Final Project.”

Rebecca Stoltzfus: NS 2600: Introduction to Global Health

November 14: 3:00-4:00 p.m.

Introduction to Global Health is intended to introduce sophomores to the multidisciplinary structure of global health problems, and to provide them perspectives and skills needed to assess a particular problem in context and a potential solution to the problem. The course culminates in a group project where students demonstrate these competencies. Rebecca will discuss the group project assignment and how she and her co-instructors intersperse break-out sessions throughout the course designed to build students’ skills to succeed in the final project.

“Robust Reflective Writing”

Marcia Eames-Sheavly: Horticulture 2010: The Art of Horticulture

April 10, 2013: 3:00-4:00 pm

Reflection is a natural part of learning: we act, then reflect on our action or learning.  As John Dewey said, “We don’t learn from our experience, we learn from reflecting on it.” Marcia’s presentation will consider the following question: how do we keep reflection—specifically, reflective writing—robust and grounded in course content (rather than fluffy or superficial)? Marcia will address the value of reflection and share tools she uses to assist students in getting the most out of their learning. Examples will include sample prompts, rubrics, guidelines, and student submissions.  In discussion we will consider how reflective writing might be incorporated into a variety of courses.

“Teaching Ethics through The Anthrax Diaries: A Documentary and Oral History Project

Kathleen Vogel: STS 2051: Ethical Issues in Health and Medicine

April 25, 2013: 3:00-4:00 p.m.

Created by Kathleen Vogel (Science and Technology Studies) and Slava Paperno (Director, Russian Language Program), The Anthrax Diaries explores the complicated social and ethical dilemmas of biological weapons development, through the personal histories of former Soviet bioweapons scientists, who until recently could not talk about their past work. From the ethical point of view, it is important to understand how Soviet scientists, many of whom had taken the Hippocratic Oath, reconciled the deadly outcome of their work with the humanistic ambitions of their science. Vogel will discuss the writing assigned to students in Ethical Issues in Health and Medicine that draws on this project and how it asks students to think about different ethical frameworks for understanding the decision of Soviet bioweapons scientists to engage in weapons work.


In December, University Courses sponsored an event about Teaching Assistants for the Council of Instructors, Writing in the Majors instructors, and other interested colleagues. The description appears below.

“TA” should mean “Teaching Apprentice”
Keith Hjortshoj
Director, Writing in the Majors, John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines

December 5, 2012

Keith will begin with some observations about the roles typically played by graduate teaching assistants and the roles they could play. These observations will launch an open discussion about the role TAs play in your courses. The goal of the discussion will be to consider how we can enrich teaching and learning experiences for everyone involved in a given course: undergraduates, graduate “teaching apprentices," and faculty.