From the category archives:

My Work

T&P Portfolio

by Dr Davis on September 11, 2015

For the next little while my uni is doing the tenure and promotion portfolio online.

My boss said the essay for teaching should be about 20 pages. Mine is 84.

Scholarship is supposed to be 5-7. Mine is 35.

Service is supposed to be 5-7. Mine is 32.

No wonder they moved them online, since they were getting so bulky. Right now my t&p is 173 pages long…

Hmmm. My teaching portion is only 4x as long as they said, while my scholarship is 5x as long. Maybe I need to expand my teaching section.

Note: I went to the CHE fora and found that other SLACs have 500-1000 pages. Maybe I am missing something.


Tenure and Promotion Portfolio

by Dr Davis on September 7, 2015

Eight days ago a senior colleague told me that my portfolio was due this year. The deadline for that is tomorrow.

So I stayed up late and worked on it and got up early and worked on it.

Then I found out that, no, it is not due until 2016. However, I thought that since I had already started it, I should just keep going.

My goal was to get it finished by the time it was due and then send it to some folks for review.

While it is not perfect, I think it is much improved over last year. I certainly took the recommendations to heart and worked on significant improvements.

So today I sent the link to folks to have them look at it. Hopefully it will be what people were looking for. (I thought it was last year when I did my pre-tenure review, but it wasn’t.)


30 Year Anniversary

by Dr Davis on August 31, 2015

Fireworks_in_San_Jose_California_2007_07_04_by_Ian_Kluft WC CC3I realized today that I have been a teacher for 30 consecutive years now.

I started as a graduate student as the teacher of record in my classes at Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian, and Purdue; worked solely as a homeschooling teacher for fourteen of those years; and have taught as an adjunct, a full-time adjunct, a full-time instructor, a professor, and an assistant professor at five colleges and universities. That is a wide variety of experiences.

Had we stayed here, instead of leaving, I would be a full professor now, one of the senior members of the department, with 25 years (though only 15 since my PhD, so maybe I would only be barely professor-ed). That was not a viable choice at the time and it sometimes amazes me that it is a viable choice now.

This is my fifth year back at my university as a full-time teacher. I am going up for tenure and promotion soon.

It is an amazing experience to look back over an academic career that spans so many schools, years, and levels of education.

I am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to teach and hopefully I can keep teaching for the next 30 years.


Results of Teaching Perspectives Inventory

by Dr Davis on August 22, 2015

My university encourages faculty development and I am presently enrolled in a Master Teacher course, for folks who want to be better teachers.

The homework before the next session involved taking the Teaching Perspectives Inventory.

After I took it, so I would have some idea what it meant, I went to the article “Development and Use of The Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI)” by Pratt, Collins, and Selinger.

My dominant mode is apprenticeship. I am not surprised by this, as that has been the metaphor I have used within my classrooms since at least the second year I was teaching, decades ago.

Effective teaching is a process of enculturating students into a set of social norms and ways of working.

Good teachers are highly skilled at what they teach. Whether in classrooms or at work sites, they arerecognized for their expertise. Teachers must reveal the inner workings of skilled performance and must now translateit into accessible language and an ordered set of tasks. Learning tasks usually proceed from simple to complex,allowing for different points of observation and entry depending upon the learner’s capability. Good teachers knowwhat their learners can do on their own and what they can do with guidance and direction; namely, engaging learners’within their ‘zone of development’. As learners mature and become more competent, the teacher’s role changes, andover time, teachers offer less direction and give more responsibility as they progress from dependent learners toindependent workers.

My recessive mode is Social Reform, also not a surprise.

I think this was a useful tool for discussion.


Backward Design

by Dr Davis on August 19, 2015

We started with the difference between backward (adjective) and backwards (adverb). Then we got onto the actual focus of the presession. It was very useful.

Backward design that you are designing backwards.

Course design is like soccer/football
Clear goal
Simple, but not easy
Kicking ball into net is really complex

Teach people how to play soccer, varying levels of difficulty
Look at it from player, spectator
Begin with the end in mind. –Stephen Covey

How do we measure success?
How will we measure success?

That is backward design.

Choose textbook ? lecture over book ? use visual aids ? powerpoint ? test
Then send them out assuming they know exactly what to do.

Content ? activities ? assessment

Design with a clear objective in mind… measurable objectives.
How will we measure and assess their learning?

Target identified, acceptable evidence THEN choose learning activities

Identify desired results (essential questions) ? determine acceptable evidence ? plan learning experiences and instruction

Teaching to the test is GREAT, if it is a good measure of what the students should know/believe…

Id desired results:
Big ideas?
Specific understandings?
Predictable misunderstandings? –point of word count…
Essential questions? How do we make it intriguing? How do we make it seem relevant?

Determine acceptable evidence:
Performance tasks? –changing oil, not leaving any parts over
Evaluation criteria? –solid rubric
Student reflection? –help them look back on what they’ve learned, apply knowledge and tie it together
Other evidence? –quizzes for retrieval practice, cumulative exams…

Plan learning experiences and instruction:
Content consumption
Small group discussion
Direct observation
Hands-on interaction
Virtual interaction
Design and prototype
Try and fail. Try and fail. You learn something from it. It’s a learning activity.

Introduction? find examples of good introductions (from student papers?)

What do we really want them to do/know?

Thesis on Facebook…

In doing backward design, we need to think like an assessor.

B&P= come up with what I really care about them learning—that writing/communication is essential for any job and the better writers they are, the better they can do their jobs (and live their lives—writing clearly is important for many other out-of-job experiences…)
Then start with examples of when/where/how that is true.
Back this up with case study experiences/quizzes that are about how to use the information in the chapters.
Connect the writing they are doing with the end of being better x’ers, which is their goal.

Linguistics = idea will be to introduce them to linguistics and all the different aspects of what that means and how these very different areas could impact/improve their lives
Spend more time on the interesting stories and apply those through the work we are doing.
How can linguistics improve their writing? Their teaching? Their reading? Their personal lives? Their care for their children? For their parents?

112 = understanding what credible, educated arguments are—proof = writing credible, educated arguments on variety of topics
stress that

003 = writing skills needed for everything…

We are presupposing some amount of motivation.
How have you made goals for this class?

As a presenter, be positive about our students’ motivation.
I supposed there were things you were willing/able to change.


Presessions Have Started

by Dr Davis on August 18, 2015

Today through Friday we have pre-school meetings. Then school starts Monday!


Retrospective S15 History of Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on May 23, 2015

This was a bit more tricky than I expected.

We did the blog posts that the first year students had requested and that gave so much great discussion fodder to the second class’ students. The blog posts were excellent when they were done. (One student consistently skipped these.) Student comments on the posts were quite substantive and created a dialogue online about the topics.

In an attempt to move away from the prescriptive assignment of topics, I simply asked students if they had any questions or something to say. They never talked. I was particularly frustrated by this, as it meant that I ended up lecturing for a good part of the class each night.

On the last day of our section, I found out that they had wanted to talk and were waiting for me to call on them individually. Personally I think that is odd, but they are first-year grad students and apparently their other teacher did that.

Resolution Options:
Next time I could once again assign discussion questions to individual students (or perhaps to two each).

Another option would be to tell students that they must be prepared for a discussion and can use the discussion questions to help them consider points, if they don’t have something they are already intrigued by.

The benefit of the problem was that I developed ideas on several relevant topics in an in-depth way to talk to the students about them. These were more applications of rhetorical ideas than a development of historical rhetoric and rhetorical ideas.

Perhaps I could work on additional development of historical lectures to add to the class. More on Paul and sophistic rhetoric, for example.


Restrospective S15 112

by Dr Davis on May 21, 2015

112 is our second semester FYC.

Almost everything seemed to go very well. Whoo hoo!

We did the two texts essay over a song and a music video. We did not have enough time to watch all the videos, but we watched some. I used Randy Travis and Tata Young’s videos again.

I let students use their Cornerstone annotated bibs for their research projects if they wanted. I did, however, require two additional non-standard things.
1) A paragraph on how they were going to use this information for their research project.
2) A quote they might use, correctly cited.

I had the students do their digital presentations over their research projects.

One student’s research project seemed “light,” even though he did all the required work and it met the criteria. When I saw his digital presentation, which was poorly done, I realized why. It’s because he was writing about a topic that he already knew well and that he thought there was only one good answer to.

One positive change:
This is the last of the first-year composition courses. Part of the emphasis in FYC is in teaching students the process. After this, the students are on their own for their academic writing. Because of those two last two statements, I decided that I should provide a calendar for the final research paper and the digital essay, but not require most of the pre-writing/planning stage of the work like I normally do. I would just let the students make their own decisions about when they did the work.

I think this was a good decision pedagogically. I basically took the training wheels off the bike, but stayed right behind it where I could help them steady themselves if they were wobbly.

I also think it worked well in practice.

One problematic change:
Because the Director of Comp and the chair were insistent that the schedule all the 112 classes followed be closely adhered to, I was not able to build in the time to host the premiere for the digital essays. We watched them in class, but we had to do them under time pressure and I didn’t have time to let the students peer review them.

I would really prefer to re-institute that.

One glitch:
The new IDEA evaluations… I thought they would be the same 20 questions we were shown. I gave students 10 minutes to complete. However, after they closed out, one of the students told me there were 100 questions and they just went down the middle because they didn’t have time to answer them. I need to check on this. If there were really 100 questions, that seems a little ridiculous. –I looked and not all the students did that. But I do wonder if some did. If even five did this consistently, it would significantly impact the average.

One possible problem:
I don’t think the 4-minute writings worked out as well as they should have. I got the impression at the end that the students thought they were a waste. (Did someone write that on an eval?)

I talked to BH about how he does them and –oh wow!—did I miss a really good use for them. He relates them to the work they are going to be doing in class that day and as he is taking them up, he asks students to volunteer their ideas.

That is a great idea. I am totally revamping the questions for that.



by Dr Davis on April 13, 2015

I had intended to put up partial notes from the different presentations I attended at PCA (Popular Culture Association) one at a time. I enjoyed the event considerably and I first learned about PCA and decided to go because of a blog post. However, I realized (finally) that it will be the end of May before I finish my PCA stuff and I have another conference this weekend.

So I’m going to fast-forward and post a bunch of PCA posts each day for a few days.

PCA was in New Orleans this year and had about 3200 presenters.

It will be in Seattle on a Tuesday through Friday next year (March 21-25) and Seattle ComicCon is the weekend following it. I need to get my hotel reservations now.


Off to PCA

by Dr Davis on April 1, 2015

I’ll be in New Orleans for Popular Culture Association this week. Looking forward to it!