Program Activity #1: Faculty Think Tank (FTT): The FTT tackles the question, "how can professors effectively foster scholarly habits in their students?" Guided by contemporary curriculum theorists who recognize that knowledge is emergent, FTT members collaborate to develop responsive, engaging classrooms. While the FTT explores various means of implementing concrete pedagogical strategies, it also focuses on how pedagogy is approached. Some questions the FTT may address include:
- Which assessment techniques encourage rather than discourage learning?
- What is the experience of students in the classroom, and how can professors use that information to enhance teaching?
- How does the instructor's sense of authority diminish or enhance students' development of agency, self-efficacy, and self-regulation?
- How does the language faculty and staff use to describe students affect the learning environment?
- What obstacles do faculty members face, and how can the university address those challenges?
Throughout the process, speakers who offer insight into pedagogical issues are invited to the campus. Proposed speakers include bell hooks for her work with engaged pedagogy and Paul Thayer for his work with learning communities and retention. Ultimately, the FTT will create a pedagogical vision for Bowie State University.
FTT members commit to using their courses as labs in order to practice and refine the pedagogical approaches discussed in the group.
Program Activity #2: Scholars' Studio: Many of the frustrations experienced in the classroom result from disconnections between professors and students. Professors expect students to approach learning as scholars, and students often do not know how to assume the role of scholars. The Scholars' Studio is a conceptual space where students are guided through the "art and craft" of becoming scholars. Here, faculty members from the FTT collaborate to create a thematically linked learning community that serves approximately forty incoming students. Within this community, professors model scholarly habits by working collaboratively with their colleagues, demonstrating a sense of "wonder," and creating classroom environments that encourage critical discourse. In turn, students develop self-efficacy and other characteristics associated with scholars. Student-members of these communities are also encouraged to participate in a Scholars' Roundtable, a discussion group that investigates the role of the scholar and critically examines issues with which academics are engaged. Members from this group may choose to contribute to the FTT pedagogical dialogue.