Temple Times Online Edition
    JANUARY 20, 2005
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TLC conference tackles expectations for students

Teaching and Learning Center Director Angela R. Linse shares ideas over breakfast with keynote speaker Shirley Malcom, director of Education and Human Resource Programs at the American Association of Advancement of Science, at the TLC winter conference.

With academic standards on the rise at Temple, more is expected of students. How can instructors help students realize these rising expectations?

More than 120 Temple faculty members and campus leaders gathered in the Student Center on Jan. 12 to wrestle with this pressing issue at the Teaching and Learning Center’s winter conference, “The Expectation Divide: Aligning Assessments with Student Outcomes.”

Keynote speaker Shirley Malcom, director of Education and Human Resource Programs at the American Association of Advancement of Science, opened the conference by describing national trends in student demographics and educational experience.

Using U.S. Census Bureau data, Malcom showed how the population of public high school graduates nationwide is projected to become more diverse. In less than a decade, the percentage of public high school graduates nationwide who report themselves as something other than white and non-Hispanic will be more than 40 percent.

Given the broad range of cultural and educational backgrounds those future college students will bring with them, Temple’s educators will have to adapt their strategies as the University pushes for greater academic rigor, discarding long-held assumptions about students’ experiences and investing more time getting to know their students as individuals.

Malcom also discussed the importance of being explicit about content standards (What should students know and be able to do?) and performance standards (How good is good enough?).

She provided examples from the research literature and successful programs to demonstrate the impact of instructors’ expectations of students, then offered the telling example of her own education — as an undergraduate, she experienced the challenge of being one of few female African-American science students.

After Malcom’s presentation, a panel of senior Temple administrators and faculty members discussed campus efforts to foster rigor in the classroom. The panel offered examples of Temple students who responded to new challenges and Temple instructors who tried new teaching strategies, encouraging students in new ways.

Next, Provost Ira Schwartz offered his perspective on academic rigor and Temple’s institutional commitment to improving teaching and learning.

“I was impressed by the universal confidence that Temple students can meet the expectations we set for them,” conference organizer and TLC Director Angela Linse said.

According to Linse, an essential first step in the quest to meet high academic standards — and seeing those standards achieved by an ever-more-diverse student body — is clear communication of learning expectations. What do Temple educators want their students to know or be able to do after students leave their schools or colleges, their departments or their courses? By thoughtfully codifying expectations, educators will be able to arrive at a more accurate measurement of student achievement.

In facilitated breakout sessions, conference participants had a chance to practice the art of developing clear program goals and linked course expectations. Attendees then participated in peer review and began identifying strategies for measuring student achievement against their stated student outcomes.

Administrators and instructors will be able to use the materials distributed at the conference to develop their own program and course expectations (see below).

- Hillel J. Hoffmann

More resources from the TLC
If you missed the Teaching and Learning Center’s winter conference — or if you attended but want to learn more — go to the TLC’s Web site, www.temple.edu/tlc, for more resources. If you’d like to practice developing program or course expectations, materials used during the conference’s breakout sessions will be posted soon so you can work through the activities on your own or with colleagues. The TLC will run follow-up workshops throughout the semester; look for e-mails from the TLC, check in at the TLC Web site or call 204-8761 for more information.