Faculty forum addresses methods of teaching diversity

Emily Harris/The News
The fall faculty forum encouraged professors to conduct constructive discussions in the classroom.Emily Harris/The News The fall faculty forum encouraged professors to conduct constructive discussions in the classroom.

Story by Lauren EppersonStaff writer

Emily Harris/The News The fall faculty forum encouraged professors to conduct constructive discussions in the classroom.

Emily Harris/The News
The fall faculty forum encouraged professors to conduct constructive discussions in the classroom.

Jesse Martin, sophomore from Paducah, Kentucky, recalls sitting through classes his freshman year that required a large amount of group discussion.

“I was in a sociology class last year and one of the topics that was brought up was the issue of race and gender. Obviously, it got a little heated,” Martin said. “It was frustrating to not be able to talk.”

Martin said he remembers most students in the class failing to pay attention and losing interest in the discussion, leaving only a few students to continue arguing. The professor struggled to regain the attention and focus of the class.

Students tuning out lengthy discussions is one example of the issues addressed Monday at the 2015 Fall Forum by guest speaker Bridget Arend, director of University Teaching at the University of Denver’s Office of Teaching and Learning. The Murray State Office of Faculty Development sponsored the forum, which consisted of two presentations for faculty on teaching strategies.

“[The presentation] was very informative. I’ve gotten great ideas about how to incorporate discussion within my classroom, and how to hold my students more accountable,” said Jamie Mahoney, professor of special education.

The strategies Arend recommended included using daily journaling to help students condense their ideas for discussion and using focus questions to direct classroom discussion.

Arend’s presentations focused on encouraging professors to look beyond the immediate results in the classroom and focus on the long term effects of positive teaching strategies.

“I think it’s more about looking beyond just teaching language and information. It’s about teaching life skills and deciding how we can provide that in the classroom,” Arend said.

Arend, who has been with the University of Denver for 15 years, has a background in teaching, learning and assessment in higher education and adult learning. Arend also serves as an adjunct faculty member with the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education and the department of organizational and professional communications at University College.

“I want to be the best teacher I can,” said Elizabeth Price, interim coordinator of the Faculty Development Office. “This is about making those decisions about how to help students learn the best they can.”

In conjunction with former University of Denver, Professor Emeritus and former Dean Jim Davis, Arend co-authored “Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning: A Resource for More Purposeful, Effective, and Enjoyable College Teaching.”

“I think having the Fall Forum for our faculty is a great idea; it presents professors with an opportunity to learn from each other and improve their skills, furthering the betterment of Murray State,” said Aaron Thompson, sophomore from Olive, Kentucky.