Teaching by Doing: Lehman’s Arts & Humanities Professional Development Workshops

How well do teachers understand and identify plagiarism in their students’ (and their own) work? What different assumptions and approaches emerge when using drafts to improve student writing and thinking? Lehman faculty have been exploring these questions in a series of fall workshops presented by the School of Arts & Humanities and the Lehman Teaching & Learning Commons.

The series originated in the English Department with chairperson Terrence Cheng’s professional development activities for full-time and adjunct staff. With the encouragement of Arts & Humanities Dean Timothy Alborn and the collaboration of Lehman Teaching & Learning Commons Director Gina Rae Foster, the workshops have moved into interdisciplinary demonstrations and discussions of best practices in key pedagogical areas.

In September, 25 faculty members looked at plagiarism from a different perspective, led by Associate Professor of Psychology Vincent Prohaska’s research with faculty and students. Prohaska’s studies show that faculty often cannot identify plagiarized material unless primed to do so (such as knowing that a text has been plagiarized before reading the work), which leads to questions of effective communication between faculty and students on this issue.

Associate Professor Terrence Cheng followed Prohaska’s presentation with a hands-on discussion of student violations of the academic integrity policy. Faculty met in small groups to look at case studies and then to engage in role plays of the disciplinary conversations between teachers and students who had plagiarized. Discussions were energetic, raising questions of appropriate communications, assignment design, and faculty/student awareness of expectations.

This past week, the second workshop in the series focused on effective use of drafts to build students’ conceptual and practical academic skills. Associate Professor of English Paula Loscocco and Associate Professor of Music Janette Tilley, both Renaissance experts in their disciplines, led 27 faculty members in examining assumptions about the nature and use of drafts.

Loscocco and Tilley presented different approaches to designing and grading drafts they had developed in Writing Across the Curriculum projects. Each shared their rubrics and materials, asking colleagues for feedback on the cross-disciplinary applications of their work. Loscocco and Tilley then divided the attendees into two groups so that the different processes of reading and commenting on drafts could be modeled through hands-on practice.

Faculty who attended represented disciplines as far-ranging as History and Health Sciences, English and Geographical Sciences. With such a wide representation of college interests, discussions of method and need among faculty members are encouraging many to reframe their practices and to share successful strategies with multiple applications.

The final workshop of the fall will be offered on December 1 with Professor of History Evelyn Ackerman and Distinguished Lecturer in Puerto Rican and Latin American Studies Andres Torres discussing how to bridge the social sciences and the humanities. This promises to be one of the most engaging faculty development events of the fall.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.