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Third Annual Colloquium: A Focus on Project-Based Learning

Stetson University’s third annual Colloquium on Teaching and Learning was filled with inspiring, innovative and thought-provoking discussions and engagement.

Hosted on April 7 and 8 by Stetson University’s Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence, the event delineated innovative approaches to address real-world and complex challenges in the higher education classroom.

Noel Painter

“The Colloquium allows each of us to expand the breadth and depth of learning and scholarship, and examine how we make connections at this institution for a broad scope of learning,” explained Stetson University’s Executive Vice President and Provost Noel Painter, Ph.D., in his opening remarks.

Day one of the event included interactive workshops, sharing sessions, a Brown Innovation Symposium and an experimental art reception.

This year’s keynote speaker was Richard Vaz, Ph.D., inaugural director of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Project-Based Learning (PBL). He and his team travel the country to help other colleges and universities implement or improve Project-Based Learning on their campuses.

Richard Vaz

“We’re talking about taking our courses and pushing the framework of theoretical education, moving students past the knowledge-based economy and preparing them for a more innovation-based environment,” Vaz stated in his keynote address. “You’re not just evaluating the results but the process of that project as well. Because projects are real-world based, it brings about very effective and interesting collaboration among faculty members as well.”

COLLOQUIUM EXPANDS

New this year was the expansion of the Colloquium from its traditional one-day event to add an embedded workshop specific to Project-Based Learning on the second day.

Twenty-two participants from four higher educational institutions, including Daytona State College, Capital University and Florida Polytechnic University, in addition to Stetson University, spent their Saturday learning how to implement or better utilize Project-Based Learning for their students.

Leading a discussion on “Minding the Gap: Engaging Conversations and Difficult Dialogues” include (L to R) Sharmaine Jackson, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology and current Brown Innovation Fellow; Rajni Shankar-Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of education, Jessie Ball DuPont chair and current Brown Innovation Fellow; Shawnrece Campbell, Ph.D., associate professor of English; Susan Pepper-Bates, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy. They shared struggles and methods for navigating difficult classroom discussions with non-judgement yet creating teachable, meaningful moments from which students may grow and expand their existing world views.

Leading a discussion on “Minding the Gap: Engaging Conversations and Difficult Dialogues” include (L to R) Sharmaine Jackson, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology and current Brown Innovation Fellow; Rajni Shankar-Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of education, Jessie Ball DuPont chair and current Brown Innovation Fellow; Shawnrece Campbell, Ph.D., associate professor of English; and Susan Pepper-Bates, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy. They shared struggles and methods for navigating difficult classroom discussions with non-judgement yet creating teachable, meaningful moments from which students may grow and expand their existing world views.

Those attending from Stetson University included: Shawnrece Campbell, Daniel Vaughen, David DiQuattro, Michael Eskenazi, Rajni Shankar-Brown, Madison Creech, Shun Kiang, Sharmaine Jackson,  Heather Edwards, Nichole Porther and Savannah-Jane Griffin.

Michael Eskenazi

Michael Eskenazi, assistant professor of psychology and current Brown Innovation Fellow, said the embedded workshop was invaluable.

“This event has given me the opportunity to redesign a class that I have been teaching for six semesters. It’s a good class, but now it’s even better as it is more project-based. I plan to spend the first half of the semester on instruction, content and engagement, then the second half on the students doing a project,” he said.

PRAISE FOR THE BROWN CENTER

Executive director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence, Julia Metzker, Ph.D., and longtime Stetson University Trustee, Cici (Cynthia) Brown, Hon. ’07, talk after the Colloquium keynote address on April 7. Brown along with her husband, J. Hyatt Brown, Hon. ’92, who also serves on the SU Board of Trustees, established the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence in 2014.

Executive director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence, Julia Metzker, Ph.D., and longtime Stetson University Trustee, Cici (Cynthia) Brown, Hon. ’07, talk after the Colloquium keynote address on April 7. Brown along with her husband, J. Hyatt Brown, Hon. ’92, who also serves on the SU Board of Trustees, established the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence in 2014.

The Colloquium is a signature program of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence, which was established by a generous endowment from longstanding Stetson University Trustees J. Hyatt Brown, Hon. ’92, and his wife, Cici Brown, Hon. ’07. The purpose of the center is to ensure active and continuous support of Stetson Faculty as life-long leaders and innovators, and to assert Stetson as a national higher education leader by modeling the University’s distinct character of learning and teacher-scholar role for future faculty.

“The Brown Center is unbelievable. It is so important for faculty development,” Professor Eskenazi noted. “I have other faculty friends across the country who don’t have the support like I do through the Brown Center, and they are just in awe. This Center and the Colloquium provide concrete ways of offering better engagement with students.”

-Trish Wieland

 

 

 

COLLOQUIUM EXPERIENCE FEEDBACK

Tony Abbott

“The colloquium provided good examples of how project-based learning fosters skills important in nearly all disciplines. The potential for interdisciplinary collaboration is rich work through such pedagogy.”

J. Anthony “Tony” Abbott, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and studies; inaugural Provost Faculty Fellow for international learning.

 

Savannah-Jane Griffin

“Attending this Colloquium has provided me time to network with colleagues across the state and grapple with ways to provide better support through the Center for Community Engagement to faculty that are interested in implementing project-based learning into their courses, as well as enhance the First Year Seminar that I teach.”

Savannah-Jane Griffin, director of community engagement & inclusive excellence; 2017 Colloquium presenter; Embedded PBL workshop participant.

 

Sharmaine Jackson

“I found the colloquium a great place to exchange ideas and find a community of teacher-scholars-practitioners interested in facilitating direct links of what is learned in the classroom with what is happening in the world around them. I have benefitted significantly as a Brown Innovation Fellow as I have amassed a number of tools to be used in improving my teaching, engaging students both in and outside of the classroom, and in writing about pedagogy.”

Sharmaine Jackson, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology – 2016-2017 Brown Innovation Fellow, 2017 Colloquium presenter, Embedded workshop participant.

 

Michele Randall

“I was encouraged by the number of faculty from our university and other institutions nearby who came together to learn more about high impact practices and how we can best serve our students. One of the best events was the workshop at the end of the day on Friday. We wrote out a few goals and were given an accountability buddy. I’ve been to countless conferences where I’ve left with tons of new ideas, but without plans and actual deadlines, those ideas too easily got lost in the day to day work. Everyone in that session had more than one great idea with clear goals and deadlines before they left for the day.”

Michele Randall, M.F.A., Sullivan Visiting Lecturer in English – 2015-16 Brown Innovation Fellow, 2017 Colloquium presenter and Brown Innovation Fellow mentor.

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