Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
February 19, 1999

English faculty organize their own teaching workshop

by Anne Dolan

English department faculty say they are done talking about meeting to talk about teaching. They have a plan, to which they all have been invited. From 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, March 3, up to 200 of them will gather in the Memorial Union Great Hall for a departmental symposium on teaching.

Center for Teaching Excellence director Corly Brooke and interim LAS dean John Dobson will attend the symposium, as will teaching assistants in the department. The event was planned by the department's committee on teacher effectiveness.

"This is a big venture for us," said Michael Mendelson, chair of the committee. "We see each other, but we seldom get to interact about professional matters, especially teaching. This puts teaching at the front of our agenda."

The morning will include two hours of panel discussions, separated by an hour-long information fair and concluding with a lunch. Panelists will discuss race and gender in communication, using technology in teaching, using theory in the classroom and student learning styles. Booths, staffed by faculty volunteers from across the university, will cover various aspects of teaching English, such as small group discussions or technophobia.

Mendelson said English faculty learned of the event last semester so they could work it into their class syllabi.

"This isn't free time to stay home," he said. "Those who choose to forgive their morning classes received a menu of a dozen study and research options to present to their students."

He also noted that teachers aren't required to change their class schedules and attend the symposium.

Mendelson said the event is one result of a department faculty survey completed last year. The top answer to a question about improving the department was more interaction among colleagues.

"Brown bags aren't enough," he said. "Our top goal for this morning is interaction -- for the sake of better teaching."

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Revised 02/18/99