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Teaching the Art of the Academic Dialogue

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Kate Langan

on 8 September 2014

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Transcript of Teaching the Art of the Academic Dialogue

Teaching the art of the academic dialogue:
A discussion on threshold concepts

Threshold Concepts
Bounded - Discipline specific
Reference, Humanities, and Information Literacy Librarian?
Or, "restored" Spanish fresco?
384–322 BCE
470/469 BC – 399 BC
428/427 or 424/423 BC
- 348/347 BC
M. Bakhtin
1895- 1975

ACRL IS 2014 Midwinter
WMU is a mid-sized, mid-western, doctoral granting public university with an FTE of approximately 21,000 undergraduates.
I think, research and write
Teaching and learning is supposed to happen here.
English 1050

120 sections of Engl.1050 offered each academic year 22 students per section.

Approximately 2300 freshmen enrolled in 2012-2013 academic year.

Represents nearly 55% of the entire freshmen class (4200 freshmen enrolled in Fall 2012).

The potential to integrate IL into the curriculum and effectively reach many students is evident. This assessment could be repeated for other colleges.

Data gathering
5 semesters,
anonymous, multiple-choice questions.
193 sections offered
66 sections opted for library for research instruction,
16 of which participated in the study.
237 valid responses
214 (90%) were traditional first year freshmen,
11 questions demographic / self-reported student experience in high school
In High school:

18% never wrote a research paper .
Extremes: 37% vs. 100%

30% had not used their high school library or media center

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." Socrates
What is “learning"?

Does learning imply acquiring knowledge?

Is the acquisition of knowledge a stagnant, finite event?

Are there tangible artifacts that are testaments to the act of learning or acquiring knowledge?

If so, how do we measure it?
What do you know about your students and their knowing?

How do you think they view their world?

What is your bias as a teacher in translating their views?
“ Threshold concepts are akin to a portal opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress.” Meyer and Land, 2003.
What do you identify as a threshold concept? Here is an example: Helen Keller: water / sound. She finally understood language. It made sense. Pulling from any discipline, what else?
“They do not offer consistent guidance for instructors on teaching priorities. Threshold concepts are, by nature, prioritized content because they are the foundational concepts.” p. 393.
Data possibly biased, based on observations, assumptions.

Threshold concepts identified are good but still seem to be performance-based.

How did you get here?

What is your bias? Age, gender, socio-economic standing, education experience, race? What do you bring into the classroom that skews your perception of your students and what they know?

What would you like to know about your student base? For example, I asked "Which classes required a paper?" and "What was the average length of a paper?"

Survey questions and lesson plan:
Concept Mapping
Shameless self-promotion
Breakout Sessions

Session 1:
Liz Bernal

Session 2:
Bridget Schumacher

Session 3:
Krystal Lewis
Session 4:
Veronica Arellano

Session 5:
Jennifer Knievel

William G. Perry
The thinkers who thought about thinking , voice, and truth who led towards an understanding of the art of the academic dialogue.


Look for me at LOEX in Grand Rapids, May 8-10. "A Tableau Vivant of IL Classrooms: The Multimodal/MultiSensory Experience for the Teaching and Learning of Threshold Concepts"
Lev Vygotsky
Students have a voice. They are choosing truths or creating truths. There is a certain responsibility in participating in the academic dialogue. Dialogue whether internal or external. As teachers, we need to provide a safe environment free of bias where students can explore truths, try out their voice, and be supportive/redirect them when/if they fail.
Threshold concepts:

Getting Unstuck
Finding a voice
Be faithful to /honor your truth
Lesson Plan

Concept Mapping
Dear diary / (journaling)
Knowing what you want to know

Risk involved in finding voice
3:50 was the benchmark.
Jacques Derrida
Major arguments

Thresh Concepts for IL are Interdisciplinary in nature.
ACRL does not prioritize standards

Townsend, L., Brunetti, K., & Hofer (2011)
Which team are you on?

Phenomenology: the study of experience
Ontology: the study of what is
What do you want to know? Understanding your questions.
Concept Mapping
Social Learning Theory Connectivism, Active learning, etc...
Dear Diary,
Write a letter to the professor. What do you want to talk about? Where do you want to lead them?
Did I fail?
Do you see how mad I am?
What about play and risk?
Play celebrates process, and isn't bound by success or failure.
Outline for today

Breakout Sessions


Initial reactions
Stop. No talking
You look pretty.
I'm bored.
Why are you doing this?
You sound like an automaton.
Kate Langan, Assistant Professor, Western Michigan University
Full transcript