Cultivating the Curious Student
What forms does curiosity take in different students? Are there ways to make students more curious? What can faculty member do to cultivate students’ curiosity? The Center for Teaching and Learning is pleased to sponsor a year-long conversation about the curious student. By considering student curiosity in broad terms, ranging from intellectual to social, we aim to promote dialogue about the place of academic work in students’ lives on campus; highlight effective strategies for motivating students; and develop new ideas about the particular challenges and opportunities for student engagement at Trinity.
Fall 2012 — Crossing the Boundaries between Social and Intellectual Life
Part I. Visiting Speaker: James Lang
James M. Lang is Associate Professor of English and Director of the College Honors Program at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. He is the author of two recent books on teaching—On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching (Harvard UP, 2008) and Life on the Tenure Track: Lessons from the First Year (Johns Hopkins UP, 2005)—as well as a regular series of columns on teaching and learning for the Chronicle of Higher Education. His new book, on how understanding academic dishonesty can help us build better learning environments, will be published by Harvard UP in the spring of 2013
Building a Better Learning Environment: Lessons from Academic Dishonesty
Thursday, September 13 — Common Hour — Washington Room
Recent pedagogical theory identifies the features of a learning environment that motivate students to learn course material and give them with the most effective tools and opportunities to do so. Despite what the theory says, teachers face numerous challenges in putting these ideas into practice in the classroom. In this talk, Prof. Lang presents research from his forthcoming book on cheating in higher education to suggest that academically dishonest behaviors often stem from students’ reactions to flawed learning environments. As a result, research into academic dishonesty provides practical lessons for constructing learning environments that foster internal motivation, orient students toward mastery learning, and give them the most effective set of tools for long-term retention.
Cultivating Curiosity Through the Grounded Curriculum: A Workshop
Thursday, September 13 – 4:30-6:00 pm — Reese Room
Prof. Lang has argued in a recent series of columns in The Chronicle of Higher Education that the growth of online education means “we have to think a little harder, as a profession, about why we are still asking students to come to our physical campuses, join our communities, and sit with us in actual classrooms.” One response to that question is the “grounded curriculum,” an effort to excite students’ curiosity by helping them see the immediate relevance of our courses to the present moment, the campus, and the local community. This workshop describes the basic theory of the grounded curriculum, explains its main benefits and challenges, and provides hands-on opportunities for participants to develop concrete ways of grounding the curriculum of their current or future courses in the unique time and space of each semester on campus.
Part II: Campus Perspectives
Through the Eyes of the Curious Student
Thursday, November 1 — common hour
In this session, students reflect on their paths through the intellectual and social landscape of Trinity. What has made them more curious, and where has their curiosity taken them? The students on this panel will discuss questions such as: How does students’ time outside the classroom shape their intellectual lives, and how does their time inside the classroom shape their personal lives? What kinds of academic experiences have led students outside their comfort zone to explore something new—a new area of study, a new social group or organization, a new part of the campus or Hartford, a new sense of identity? What makes it hard or easy to cross between different groups, both academic and social?
How Teachers Excite Curiosity
Thursday, November 15 — common hour
In this session, faculty continue the discussion by responding to the student panelists and commenting on the roles faculty do, can, or should play—either in or out of the classroom—in furthering students’ curiosity and encouraging them to explore new avenues of inquiry.