Sunday, December 14, 2014

by Ann Abbott

In keeping with my previous posts this semester about how to use a traditional textbook in non-traditional ways, I'd like to describe how my students and I worked on the last chapter we covered.

Students choose which chapter to study

I cannot cover all the chapters of the textbook (Exito comercial) because I also allot time for student projects. So I allow students to choose some of the chapters that we cover.

This semester I allowed them to choose the last chapter, and they chose the very last chapter of the book: #14 "Las perspectivas para el futuro."

It's not very often that students get such a voice in what is covered in a course, and they responded very well to it. So don't just cover all the chapters that you think are important: ask them what they want to study!

Connect the chapter information to students' context

The information in that last chapter included thoughts about what and how colleges should teach to prepare students to be leaders in the changing world (pp. 500-502): 
  1. Perspicacia.
  2. Integración de las asignaturas académicas.
  3. Habilidades interpersonales y comunicativas.
Students read this section of the chapter at home. In class, I gave each of them three sticky notes. In each sticky note they had to write one example of how the education at the University of Illinois did or did not reflect what the textbook was calling for. After writing, they stuck their sticky notes on the board with a "+" for positive examples or the board with a "-" for ways that the university does not address those needs or does so badly.

I'm happy to say that the vast majority of the sticky notes contained positive examples.

Positive examples:

Study abroad: semester-long programs (e.g., Granada, Spain) and short-term courses (Business' trips to Brazil and Costa Rica)
Classes on social justice.
Requirements of the major: "Actuarial Science requires courses in finance, economics and computer science."  
The Career Center
Experiential learning: "SPAN 202 work with La Línea"
There are many international students on our campus.
Specific courses: 
  • COMM 112 
  • SPAN 202 (hurray!) 
  • BADM 382
  • GLBL 100
  • Global Marketing
  • BADM 380 (specifically the projects)
  • SPAN 305 (they worked in teams)
  • BADM 350 (technology)
  • SPAN 232 (another hurray!)
  • LAS 101 ("ayuda con conexiones con las personas mayores cuando estás en el primer año¨)

Negative examples

I'm not going to call out any specific courses or programs here, but students mentioned:
More colleges/programs should requires courses about languages and cultures.
You can satisfy Advanced Comp with a class about math that doesn't help you learn to write well.
Exams don't test students' interpersonal abilities.
They don't have courses about how to work with people from different cultures.
You can only take Business Spanish, not Business French, Business Italian or other languages.

Are you surprised by anything that the students wrote? Do you think your univerisity is doing a good job of preparing students to have the leadership skills necessary for our changing world? What do you do in your classes that addresses the complexity and interconnectedness of the world we live in? Let me know in a comment!

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