The SoTL Advocate

Supporting efforts to make public the reflection and study of teaching and learning at Illinois State University and beyond…

Decoding was a Success!

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Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and Associate Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University

Late last week, a total of 41 faculty from ISU participated in one of two Decoding the Disciplines events on campus. Sponsored by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, these events featured Dr. David Pace, Emeritus Professor of History at Indiana University and co-creator of an approach to spanning the novice-to-expert gap called “Decoding the Disciplines.”

First, an event for faculty in ISU’s Department of History was held at Milner Library. Nineteen faculty joined in a discussion about SoTL and Decoding the Disciplines. They worked to identify bottlenecks in their curriculum where a Decoding approach might be beneficial to supporting student learning and curriculum planning. Attendees were privy to the first-ever whole group Decoding interview, where Dr. Pace simultaneously interviewed the entire faculty to identify whole program bottlenecks for future attention and focus.

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History faculty engrossed in small group discussions about disciplinary bottlenecks

The following day, 22 faculty from across campus experienced a full-day Decoding workshop, learning about each of the seven steps of the process. Participants identified student learning bottlenecks one or more of their classes, then brainstormed together on approaches for Decoding interviews and possibilities for collecting and sharing data to reflect pre- versus post-Decoding student learning.

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ISU faculty learning about the steps of the Decoding the Disciplines process

The establishment of a Teaching/Learning Community to continue these Decoding conversations is underway. Specifically, faculty have expressed an interest in looking more deeply into:

  • The impact of bias in the identification of bottlenecks
  • The relationship between knowing and doing in courses where the essence of the experience is understanding process
  • Differences between faculty and student visions of a goal for a class, project, or assignment
  • Understanding ways to approach emotional bottlenecks

These Decoding experiences would not have been possible without the assistance and support received from the Office of the Provost, Ross Kennedy (Chair, Department of History at ISU), Richard Hughes (Associate Professor, History at ISU and co-planner of the History Department event), and Beth Welch.

A list of Decoding the Disciplines resources can be found in this recent blog post.

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