Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) Learning Community Explores Digital Writing Assignments

Our guest-blogger Rebecca Tarsa (Writing Program) was a coordinator for a Technology-Enhanced Learning Community on Digital Assignments in Spring 2018. TEL Learning Communities are self-directed, structured, interdisciplinary groups–predominantly made up of 8-10 faculty, though communities may also include staff and students—which gather to learn together about a specific topic related to technology, teaching and learning. If you are interested in finding out more about TEL Learning Communities, please contact Jennifer Lubkin Chavez.

During this past spring semester, I served as coordinator for a faculty Learning Community devoted to designing and implementing digital writing assignments in our classes. We, a group of six faculty from across the university, met five times over the course of the semester to discuss approaches to using digital writing in the classroom and negotiating the specific challenges that come with such assignments.

Unlike traditional writing assignments, which feature only text, digital writing assignments ask students to compose across a range of media. Students might, for example, be asked to combine text with data visualization and images to create an infographic, or to script and produce a podcast or video. Digital assignments are becoming increasingly common at both the high school and college levels, driven by the dramatic expansion of such work in professional and extra-academic settings, as well as the expanding array of tools available to facilitate their production.

Over the course of the semester, all six members of the group designed or re-designed a digital writing assignment for use in an upcoming course. These assignments span a range of disciplines and styles, offering a varied look into the role such work can play in meeting course goals and enhancing student outcomes. Below, I’ve summarized what each assignment looks like, and how it might serve as a useful model for other Georgetown faculty considering experimenting with digital writing in their own courses; I’ve also included a link to a copy of the assignment itself. If you’d like more information on designing or evaluating digital writing assignments, you can also check out this recent two-part blog post from the Georgetown Writing Program: Part I and Part II

Matthew Pavesich redesigned an assignment from a freshman writing course, moving from a very open prompt to one asking students to use a specific tool—StoryMap—to trace the emergence of a specific issue in a community of their choosing. Though designed for a writing-intensive course, this assignment is useful for anyone considering how to engage students in nonlinear forms of writing towards specific goals. Matt’s instructions are concise but specific, and have a lot in common with a traditional writing assignment, offering students (and instructors!) familiar ground to orient them in StoryMap’s geographically-based timeline structure.

Seth Perlow chose to base his assignment in Twitter, asking students to analyze the rhetorical strategies of specific “tweeters,” then create their own original tweets in that same style. His assignment allows students to tap into their existing social media literacy skills, then requires them to analyze and articulate what rhetorical skill looks like in this modern venue. Seth’s version of this assignment gives students broad choice in what kind of account they want to analyze—but the broad strokes could be adapted for a wide range of course content by asking students to seek out accounts with goals or content similar to that of the course itself. For example, students in public policy courses could analyze accounts devoted to communicating policy issues to a general audience.

Erin Twohig’s assignment asks students to create a website presenting a Francophone team from the 2018 World Cup, showcasing their language skills from the semester by building content in a variety of formats: articles, basic information, and several more creative formats of the students’ choosing (such as quizzes or artwork). Her assignment, designed as a group project, shows how digital writing can open up opportunities for students to work together and delegate based on different interest areas and proficiencies.

Anne Rosenwald asked students in her intro-level Biology of Global Health course to create an e-portfolio examining gun violence as a public health issue. Her assignment prompt is a great example of how mini-deadlines can help structure more complex and high-stakes digital writing assignments, such as this multi-part final project. Her assignment sheet spends a lot of time asking students to consider audience and how to match the form and content of their work to that audience, showing how digital writing can challenge students to think more deeply about how to communicate ideas and information accessibly and compellingly. Anne’s assignment stands in contrast to Matt’s; where his shows the benefit of asking students to work in a specific platform, Anne puts the rhetorical responsibility on students to choose the best platform, building in those mini-deadlines to help them keep that process on track.

Benjamin Harbert’s assignment engages students with both written and audio elements, asking them first to reflect on relationships between sounds in a given environment, then design and record an experiment dealing with an existing local sound ecology. Like Anne’s, Benjamin’s assignment gives a lot of space to students to shape their work towards their own ideas and interests—while also blending in a healthy portion of traditional written work to ground the less traditional element of sound experimentation.

Bernie Cook re-designed his documentary treatment assignment, in which he asks students to write a treatment of the documentary they’ll be working on as teams for the rest of the semester. His prompt presents both versions, to better show the changes he introduced to add a less traditional element to the writing he’s asking students to do. While his assignment isn’t explicitly digital, it’s a great example of how introducing low-stakes, less traditional writing into the assignment process can engage students in new ways, shifting their final work closer to achieving the desired goals. In asking students to carry out the steps of the project first in-class, without any grade attached, then exchange that work with a classmate for feedback, students go into the final, higher-stakes stage with a wider sense of how to achieve the assignment’s goals, and of what’s possible within its parameters.

Exploring New Educational Technologies at CNDLS

This summer, CNDLS has been experimenting with the latest innovations in educational technology to better understand how to incorporate them into classrooms across Georgetown. Recently, our staff has had the chance to explore three tools in particular including  Zoom, Google’s Jamboard, and Cisco’s Webex Board.

Zoom is a synchronous collaboration tool that allows users to host a virtual class, hold office hours, and share real-time screen content with participants. Zoom’s platform creates unique opportunities for remote collaboration. To learn more about its share screen and breakout groups features which creates new opportunities for student projects and presentations, read the full blog post.

Google’s Jamboard is an interactive whiteboard that allows users to visualize their ideas in a new and collaborative way. Jamboard is connected to a user’s Google account, letting users import documents from their Google Drive and host Google Hangouts. Read the full blog post about how Jamboard’s novel approach to whiteboard style collaboration can make visual classroom activities accessible for remote students.

Similar to Google’s Jamboard, Cisco’s Webex is an all-in-one interactive whiteboard device optimal for collaboration. With its own suite of applications, the Webex Board integrates the most common tools needed for collaboration into a single device. To learn more about its document annotation and wireless screen mirroring for classroom use, read the full blog post.

For information about all of these new tools and more, visit our website, cndls.georgetown.edu, or contact us to set up a time to meet with a CNDLS staff member.

CNDLS Fellow Betsi Stephen Creates Innovative Online Course, Brings Together Georgetown Main Campus and SFS Qatar Students

At CNDLS, we support educational innovation at Georgetown through the incorporation of new technologies in the classroom, virtual learning environments, and more to create new and exciting learning experiences for students, including the ability to teach courses to students located across the world. CNDLS Senior Fellow Betsi Stephen (SFS), a veteran professor of online and hybrid course teaching, has paved the way for innovation at Georgetown through her Spring 2018 online course, “Politics and Sports” which brought together students from Georgetown’s main campus and its School of Foreign Service Qatar (SFS-Q) campus.

“Politics and Sports,” an online course part of the SFS Centennial Labs, explores complex questions at the intersection of sports and politics including the political aspect of sports, and how race, gender and class are manifested in sports and politics. The class was composed of three undergraduate sections: 10 students in Qatar, 10 students from the main campus who traveled to Qatar for spring break, and an additional 15 main campus students who did not travel.

Because of the course’s online platform, students were given the unique opportunity to interact and hear from peers from across the world with vastly different perspectives, and to go at their own pace each week. As part of the course requirements, students were required to complete a group project. Over spring break, the 10 main campus students traveled to Qatar to present their projects and explore the country. Throughout the course of the week, students from both campuses had the chance to engage with one another and gain a better understanding of each other’s region and culture.

The ability to engage beyond the online learning space gave students the unique opportunity to see the real world applications of their coursework through the study abroad component. It allowed for an enriching cultural experience and the chance to develop valuable skills like cross-continent collaboration from the need to coordinate across different time zones for their group project. To learn more about Stephen’s course and her students’ experiences, read the full blog post from the School of Foreign Service here.

We extend our deepest congratulations to Stephen on the success of her innovative course. We look forward to future courses like this one! To learn more about how you can engage with CNDLS’ programs and services, visit our website or contact us at cndls@georgetown.edu.

Hats Off: AT Programs Wraps Up a Successful Year

The AT Program has officially wrapped for the 2017-18 academic year! This year’s program was perhaps its most successful, engaging 202 participants from Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Continuing Studies, and McDonough School of Business. Over the course of the year we offered 19 workshops, two book clubs, and consulted with participants on nearly one hundred Authentic Teaching Tasks.

In addition to the AT Program’s regular offerings, there were several collaborative, interdisciplinary events. We hosted a book club both semesters, where participants discussed teaching techniques and lessons from Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do and James Lang’s Small Teaching. More than a mere book club, these meetings functioned as a de facto teaching circle, offering participants a deep dive on pedagogy and a chance to discuss their concrete teaching practices and ideas with colleagues. We also collaborated with Professor Mun Chun Chan and other faculty from the Biology Department on an extended workshop aimed specifically at graduate students teaching in STEM fields: “Designing for Lab Teaching and Recitations in STEM.” Additionally, Professors Karen Shaup and Phil Sandick, both from the Writing Program, facilitated a workshop targeting primarily humanities based participants titled “Designing Writing Assessments and Commenting on Student Work.”

Serving as something of a capstone, we’re excited to see a number of our graduate students leading sessions at the 2018 Teaching, Learning, and Innovation Summer Institute. As with past years, participants in the AT Program not only teach in multiple capacities, but directly impact Georgetown’s culture of teaching through innovating, experimenting, and sharing best practices.

A Reading List for Summer and Beyond

With the semester winding down, are you looking for a few excellent books for your summer reading list? CNDLS has you covered. In our new Teaching Commons Bibliography, you’ll find a treasure trove of readings—articles and books—on a range of teaching and learning topics.

Maybe you’ll want to dig into the complexities of mentoring with Brad Johnson, get inspired by the liberatory pedagogical ideas of bell hooks, or find out from Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel what really helps students remember what they learn. Maybe you want to think about course design, engaging diversity, social justice in the classroom, or…well, the list goes on. These resources will expose you to the ideas and approaches of experienced and successful teachers, give you insight into teaching practices that are supported by empirical research, and help you think productively about the challenges and opportunities around teaching writing or STEM topics, making your class truly inclusive, incorporating technology into your pedagogy, getting the most out of the syllabus, and a lot more. There are even texts here to provoke you to think about your own learning and how it might connect to students’.

The bottom line is that, with this bibliography, you won’t lack for good reading this summer—and, by the time the fall semester rolls around, you’ll be ready for it.

As always, if we can ever help with anything—or if you have ideas for texts that we might want to include in this ever-growing bibliography—please reach out to us at cndls@georgetown.edu!

Mentoring and Transforming: Small Practices, Big Changes: A Conversation with Peter Felten

What is mentoring?
On  April 9, in partnership with Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, CNDLS hosted Peter Felten, Ph.D., Assistant Provost of teaching and learning and Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University, as part of the Mentoring Initiative. He spoke of the importance and impact of mentoring students, and some of the small changes faculty and staff can make in their approaches to student communication that can have a big impact on student success.

Felten defined mentorship using guidelines set out in the writings of W. Brad Johnson, who sees mentoring relationships as dynamic, reciprocal, and personal, and identifies a mentor as someone who acts as a guide, role model, teacher, and sponsor. Felten acknowledged  the difficulty of creating and maintaining meaningful mentoring relationships However, he argued that a good education is a relational education, and working to build relationships with students outside of the classroom and helping students to build relationships with each other enhances the educational experience.

Participants then broke into pairs to discuss their relationships with their own mentors. They answered questions asking: How and why did the relationship develop? What happened? Was it transformational?  Was it a positive change? What do your stories suggest about the nature of mentoring, and what can we do to be good mentors?

Characteristics of a good mentoring relationship
Participants identified characteristics of meaningful mentoring, including transitioning from a transactional relationship to a relationship with longevity, watching the relationships reverse as the mentor learned from the mentee, and mentees beginning to feel as though they were being taken seriously as adults.

Felten remarked that he had found many of these characteristics in his research and in working with students at Elon University. Students reported that the most useful and empowering mentoring relationships came from instances when mentors lent perspective on students’ capabilities that the students could not see themselves. He also addressed some of the formulas for success in mentoring relationships, such as being consistent and honest about your own limitations as a mentor, and the importance of asking students questions, rather than just giving them answers.

Hurdles to Good Mentoring
Mentoring relationships can have complicated dynamics. Students are often aware of the inherent power inequality between themselves and faculty, and this can lead to a feeling of obligation or intimidation from students. In order to be responsive to these concerns, faculty interested in mentoring students might, for instance, allow students to approach them to form a relationship, while also being conscious that many students may not feel as though they deserve to ask for that kind of relationship. An important step in becoming an effective mentor is recognizing what the student thinks you can offer.

Students who could most benefit from mentoring relationships could be the least well-equipped to seek out a mentor. Good mentoring contributes to equalizing academic outcomes for traditionally marginalized and underrepresented students,. For example, first generation and minority students often come to campus with less social capital than their peers, and some of these students may carry with them the assumption that asking for help is inappropriate These students also often fear that if they do seek out a faculty member they will have nothing to contribute and will waste faculty time. Therefore, mentors should work on communicating that “good students ask for help,” and share the expectation that students should have relationships with faculty.

The conversation then turned to the particular needs of first year students, who are often more focused on surviving their transition to college than seeking out mentoring relationships. Felten observed that many first year students put their “identity in a lock box” for the first year, and begin to try on identities in later years. He noted that the end result of this is that students can sometimes be in radically different emotional, social, and mental stages, even though they might share other similar characteristics, such as year, major, and GPA.

Non-faculty mentoring
Mentoring relationships with students are not reserved for faculty Felten told an anecdote of one academic who made this discovery during a visit to a small university. As he walked around campus, he asked students, “Who is the person I need to talk to about what makes the education here so remarkable?” All of the students answered the same person, who he assumed was a professor. He wrote down in his notes, “We need to speak to Mesreeta.”

He later found out that “Mesreeta” was actually “Miss Rita,” the woman who served coffee at the cafe in the college’s science building They found that it was her warm, non-judgmental, open, and confident relationships with the students that had such deep and lasting impacts on students, and that all members of staff—not just faculty—have the power to be influential mentors in students’ lives.

Steps to Good Mentoring
Felten also shared some concrete practices. For example, Guided Reflection on Work (GROW) is a practice at University of Iowa where students meet with their supervisors twice a semester and go over these questions:

  • How is this job fitting in with your academics?
  • What are you learning here at work that is helping in your academics?
  • What are you learning in class that you can apply here at work?
  • Can you share examples of things that you are learning here at work that you will use in your future profession?

Saying-is-Believing is another system by which students write and share (out loud) a brief analysis or story that reinforces a growth mindset. Students often struggle during their first semester, so describing how they can be successful can give them “academic hope.” A sense of agency and a plan helps students be successful.

Offering constructive criticism can also be helpful in showing students that you have high standards for them and their work. Rather than just placating a student and telling them that they tried hard when they fail, explain to them that you both have high standards for academic work, and that this doesn’t meet them. Explain to them where these standards come from, why their work isn’t meeting these standards, and that they are capable of meeting those standards. Articulate that you know that the student is capable of meeting those standards and that you will support them in doing the work necessary to achieve their goals. Expressing faith in their capacity as a person without ignoring the flaws in the work is more effective than simply offering encouragement.

Next Steps
For the final break-out group discussion, participants were asked to think about what structures and incentives support mentoring in their context, and what authority and intimacy looks like. In response to a question about the balancing the current harassment culture, Felten emphasized the importance of directly and explicitly addressing these issues and clearly defining boundaries.

Felten also talked about the institutional barriers that sometimes stand in the way of good mentoring. Sometimes universities “Reward A and expect B” in terms of valuing your time and input in student relationships.

By the end of the session, participants in the workshop were able to consider their own teaching practices in a new light, discussing in small groups what they could do to develop or deepen their mentoring practices. Springboarding off of Felten’s lecture, participants brainstormed the ways in which their own teaching could be enriched through student partnerships and a consideration of the student perspective. Keeping in mind a nuanced understanding of the many institutional challenges that sometimes stand in the way of effective mentoring, participants considered ways in which the many benefits of strong mentorship could be brought to a wider portion of the student population and how they could begin to work toward cultivating a spirit of mentorship among their colleagues and throughout campus.

Teaching and Learning for Reconciliation: 2018 Doyle Engaging Difference Symposium

If you missed the 2018 Doyle Engaging Difference Symposium or would like to revisit this year’s theme, the panel session was recorded and can be viewed here. If you are interested in learning more about the Doyle Engaging Difference Program, please visit its website.

On Friday, March 16, 2018, the Doyle Engaging Difference Program hosted its ninth annual Doyle Symposium in collaboration with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. The symposium featured a diverse panel speaking on this year’s theme, “Teaching and Learning for Reconciliation.”  The panelists sought to explore the concept of reconciliation, both historically and as it is enacted in the present day at a local and global level, as well as its relationship to Georgetown University’s mission.

Moderated by Berkley Center Senior Fellow and CNDLS Doyle Faculty Fellow Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer, the panelists included Deirdre Jonese Austin (SFS’19), a student fellow in the 2017-2018 Doyle Undergraduate Fellows cohort; Father Ludovic Lado, S.J., Visiting Professor of the Walsh School of Foreign Service from Cameron; Dr. Cheryl Suzack, Associate Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto; and Andrew Walker (SFS’16), Program Associate of the Office of the Vice President of Global Engagement.

Balzer opened the panel with a brief overview of the cases to be covered including those related to pre-colonial Indigenous Peoples, the Piscataway, and others including Georgetown University’s effort to reflect on, engage with, and learn from its historic ties to slavery. She initiated the conversation by asking each of the panelists to describe what reconciliation means in the context of their research and activism. She then followed up with questions specific to each individual panelist. The panel then took questions directly from the audience.

In describing what reconciliation means to her, Austin discussed how she was first introduced to the topic through the book Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism by Allen Boesak and Curtis Paul DeYoung. This led her to think about reconciliation as creating or recreating simultaneously a practice between God and self as well as between the self and others to repair broken or nonexistent relationships.

Upon discovering its historical ties to the institution of slavery, Georgetown University assembled Georgetown University’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation to engage with and learn about Georgetown’s past and make recommendations to guide Georgetown in its ongoing work. Austin offered a student’s perspective on the Working Group, pushing the University to move past offering an apology and preferred admissions status and toward paying direct reparations to the descendents of the enslaved individuals sold by Georgetown in 1838. She also argued that the University’s reconciliation work needs to expand beyond the direct descendents. “I think it’s important to address the current students on campus, specifically the black students who have been impacted by the implications of slavery, which are present in society today in housing practices [and] criminal justice.”

Lado echoed Austin’s thoughts about the personal, spiritual, and relational aspects of reconciliation. He remarked that working toward “reconciliation with the estranged” is written as a requirement in the foundational document of the Society of Jesus. However, he warned, “there’s always a huge tension between reconciliation and justice.” Justice, Lado said, is often a matter of identifying who is right and who is wrong, and meting out punishment and reward; reconciliation, which resonates with the African concepts of ubuntu, or unity, prioritizes the health of the community and a path forward toward making what is broken whole.

Suzack spoke from her experience working with the government-led reconciliation commission in Canada to provide recognition and redress to the tens of thousands of Native Canadians forcibly removed from their homes and enrolled in the Indian residential school system. Additionally she discussed some of the complexities that reconciliation faces in practice: the difficulty of sharing and reliving past suffering, the potential for the objectification of those experiences, and the fact that many communities felt excluded and argued that the agreement did not speak for them. Despite these difficulties, Suzack was clear that there has also been the opportunity for healing through the ceremonies and rituals that have been part of the reconciliation process in Canada. At one moving event she mentioned, attendees sang “Happy Birthday” to survivors of the schools, who had been denied such small joys in their childhood.

Reconciliation has also allowed the indigenous community of Canada to connect with other communities that have experienced similar injustices, such as South Africans who lived through apartheid.  “To my mind,” she concluded, “one of the goals of reconciliation should be coalitions, reaching out and working with other communities…racial justice is not self-evident, and the way to achieve it can’t always be looking backward, it has to look to a future.”

Walker addressed his own work at Georgetown on behalf of HeForShe, a United Nations initiative to encourage men and boys to stand in solidarity with women to promote global gender equality. He pointed out that those who are complicit in systems of oppression often seek reconciliation in order to receive forgiveness, which adds an additional burden to those who have been marginalized.  And he warned that too often, communities like Georgetown struggle to move from dialogue to action in effecting change.

Because Mentoring Works: The Mentoring Initiative at Georgetown

Have you ever had a mentor—someone who took the time to meet with you, to let you know that they believed in you, to share inside information about higher education generally and the field more specifically? If you’re successful and satisfied in your work, the answer is probably yes; many academics have at one time or another depended, both professionally and personally, on someone further along to give them a boost.

That’s because mentoring works. As experts find again and again (and again and again and again and again), mentorship helps students succeed and thrive not only in school but also well beyond. And yet, perhaps because of time constraints on faculty or a lack of institutional support for reaching out to students in this way, mentorship is still the exception, not the norm, for most students.

And so, with the generous support of Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) and donors Alida and Christopher Latham, CNDLS and NHS launched the Mentoring Initiative this past fall. This initiative sponsors events open to the whole Georgetown community, including talks this year by U.S. Naval Academy Psychology professor W. Brad Johnson and Director of Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning Peter Felten, and has also enabled an ongoing cohort of faculty who are meeting to explore ways to encourage more mentorship on campus. Learn more about our Mentoring Initiative here!

We’ve also created a Mentoring Students page on the Teaching Commons for all the faculty who want to make this a bigger part of their work with students. You’ll find an outline of some of the research on the power of mentoring as well as tips for how to mentor effectively (even when time is scarce), resources for further reading, and a list of opportunities for actively taking this role on here at Georgetown.

As many of us know from our own experience, good mentorship can be the key to students finding their best paths and stepping onto them with confidence. We hope the Mentoring Initiative and the resources we’re gathering online will support faculty as they, in turn, give students crucial support themselves.

As always, if we can help, please reach out to us at cndls@georgetown.edu!

The Veteran Education Training Ally Program: VET Allies

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

Georgetown is a military-connected campus—about a thousand of our students are active duty, veterans, reservists, or spouses/dependents of military students—but what can we do to make sure that Georgetown is also a military-friendly campus?

LeNaya Hezel, director of the Georgetown Veterans Office, came to TLISI 2017 to talk about exactly that. In her panel “The Veteran Education Training Ally Program: VET Allies,” Hezel outlined some of the strengths that military-connected students bring to Georgetown, such as leadership and teamwork skills, resilience, adaptability, resourcefulness, organization, and empathy. They also may face challenges here, however, as they transition to a very different culture than the military, as they navigate the ways in which their background and age might not match the students around them, and as they handle possible stress around national/international news developments and the possibility of military reactivation.

So what can faculty and staff do to make this campus work for our military-connected students? Hezel offered some recommendations, including:

  • Get educated about veteran experiences and opportunities here at Georgetown. The Veterans Office on campus is a great place to start! Meanwhile, express interest in the experiences, past work, and goals of the military-connected students in your courses, while of course allowing them to decide what and when to disclose.
  • Make your syllabus and course policies military-friendly. For example, did you know Georgetown has a military leave of absence policy that you can incorporate explicitly into your syllabus?
  • Bear in mind that certain holidays/occasions may elicit strong emotions, including not just Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day, but also Alive Day.
  • Find opportunities inside and outside the classroom for military-connected students and civilian students to build bridges.
  • If students are facing transitional challenges, meet with them privately, and connect them to campus resources, like the Veterans Office, the Academic Resource Center, and CAPS.

As a Jesuit institution, Georgetown is committed to the value of cura personalis, which means engaging the uniqueness and complexity of all of our students. When it comes to military-connected students, this means going beyond “thank you for your service” to make sure that this is a place where they can thrive.

Values-Driven Teaching: Caring Holistically for Each Student

Among Georgetown’s foundational values, there are two that may seem hard to disentangle: care of the whole student and cura personalis. Both of these values concern caring for our students in thoughtful and complex ways—but each approaches those questions of care from different directions.

Care of the whole student involves engaging the full humanity of your students, going beyond addressing their intellect to fostering holistic growth across many aspects of life; cura personalis, on the other hand, asks us to consider each student as an individual, distinct from all others. While the first might make us think primarily about bringing issues of student well-being into our courses, the second invites us to think about how to make our classrooms as inclusive as possible.

At CNDLS we have resources designed to help with both. We’ve talked previously on this blog about our Teaching Commons page on Teaching Well-Being, for example. But we also have a page on Inclusive Pedagogy. On that page we outline some of the research demonstrating the importance of building a learning space where all students have access to learning, and where we explore local resources as well as teaching techniques that help you reach everyone.

Taking these values seriously means thinking about the ways that the larger world reaches into our courses. Most recently, in the context of a national landscape frequently shaken by troubling events, we’ve put together an online collection of resources on Responding to Critical Events, which includes a page on Teaching in the Shadow of Gun Violence. The hope is that, through thoughtful preparation, we can meet our students where their thoughts and hearts are.

More generally, we think this is at the heart of what it means to teach well: educating our students as whole people and to create classrooms where there are no margins, where all of our students are at the center of the learning experience. Teaching in this way, we can make our values real in the world.

As ever, please reach out to us at cndls@georgetown.edu if we can help!