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Faculty Showcase Features Storytelling for Teaching Excellence


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    By Michael R. Malone
    UM News

    05-30-17-Faculty-Showcase-608x342

    Visiting Assistant Professor Mónica Alexandra Durán  leads a learning circle at the Faculty Showcase.

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 24, 2017)—Teaching teachers to weave stories using mind tools—rhythm and cadence, humor, a twist of the bizarre, or a taste of the familiar—that enhance learning was just one of the many novel techniques shared at Faculty Showcase 2017.

    Promoting teaching excellence was the story at this full-day workshop held this month in the Donna E. Shalala Student Center. The third annual showcase, facilitated by University of Miami Information Technology’s Academic Technologies unit, attracted faculty from a range of disciplines across the University and included a potpourri of Faculty Spotlights, learning circles, and faculty exhibit opportunities.

    “I’m always looking for new and better ways to get students engaged,” said Dan DiResta, a senior lecturer in the Department of Biology, when asked his motivation for attending. DiResta and colleague Jane Indorf, an assistant professor, both appreciated the emphasis on storytelling in teaching and said narrative techniques are used often in biology in the form of case studies.

    “The students really enjoy the case studies for learning—they’re like investigative mysteries—and some of the cases are ‘told’ by some very good storytellers,” Indorf said.

    In his Faculty Spotlight on “Promoting Retention of Information through Narrative Memory,” Matthew Kaeiser, an instructor in the Division of Continuing and International Education’s Intensive English Program, shared associative language learning techniques he developed when teaching in Honduras. Research shows that narrative presentations enhance learning and storytelling techniques can be especially helpful for students whose first language is not English.

    “Teaching can become very siloed, so the showcase is geared to get people from different teaching areas to connect and to expand faculty awareness for the many opportunities that are there for them but often not talked about enough,” said Gemma Henderson, senior instructional designer with Academic Technologies. The showcase was mainly contextualized for University faculty, but was open to the public.

    As part of his keynote address, “Developing Students’ Emerging ‘Story of Self’ as Citizens,” Scot Evans led participants in a storytelling exercise to identify the “ah ha” moments in their lives, a snippet in time where they became aware of their purpose and civic identity. Evans, an associate professor of educational and psychological studies in the School of Education and Human Development, uses the same exercise in his classes to connect students to the power of their own stories—and how their stories deepen connections to each other and to their learning.

    In addition to the keynotes and a wide range of topics explored in learning circles, faculty toured tables with resource information about Learning Innovation and Faculty Development; the Faculty Learning Community (trans-disciplinary); Learning Platforms (online technologies for classroom teaching); Miller School of Medicine campus resources (curriculum development, mentoring and faculty development, Panopto lecture-capture); and the treasure chest of resources available for faculty and students at the library—Digital Media Lab, Geographic Information Systems Lab, Digital Humanities, the Learning Commons, and much more.

    For the last two years, the Faculty Showcase has been funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation.

     

     

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