Faculty Voices

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Hear colleagues tell their stories of implementing student-centered practices in their disciplines. What’s your teaching story?

We welcome your feedback on Faculty Voices.

Haivan Hoang Faculty Voices icon

Haivan Hoang on Power and Difference

"I take a student-centered viewpoint, really trying to affirm what students bring to the class.  And with that there is definitely, for me, a consideration of power relations—socially among students and of course between instructor and students." –Dr. Haivan Hoang, Associate Professor, English

Haivan Hoang in Depth: Writing as Practice & Subject

"Even though writing is typically the focus of my classes, readings are also very important to me because I want to introduce students to really diverse perspectives through readings that would exceed what they would get from their peers." –Dr. Haivan Hoang, Associate Professor, English

Haivan Hoang in Depth: Assessment & Feedback through Dialogue

"Dialogue with students…is so important because it is a way of modeling how writing should be read.  I think most students are coming from a culture of testing and exams and writing is about performance, so it is not uncommon for students to ask, ‘What do you want me to write?  How do you want me to write this?’  I really want them to back up and think about writing as communication.–Dr. Haivan Hoang, Associate Professor, English

Haivan Hoang in Depth: Negotiating Authority in the Classroom

"Early on in my teaching career I felt like I needed to own my authority, when was in my early 20s teaching English courses as an Asian American who doesn’t have a very forceful kind of presence.  I felt like I needed to go in and basically say what my credentials were, to say what my research interests were." –Dr. Haivan Hoang, Associate Professor, English

Haivan Hoang in Depth: Productive Discomfort in the Classroom

"…and he realized that he had more commonality there than he thought. I said, ‘This essay is intentionally confrontational. Why do you think she might have written it in this way?’" –Dr. Haivan Hoang, Associate Professor, English

Haivan Hoang in Depth: Race in the Classroom

"I’ve had [white] students who’ve told me that they grew up being told that they shouldn’t even mention race…. from really well-meaning people. …And that’s the way to work toward equality.  …I think that kind of talk stymied their curiosity about why we have the kind of race relations we have now in the United States.–Dr. Haivan Hoang, Associate Professor, English

Haivan Hoang in Depth: Valuing Nontraditional Student Knowledge

"We talked about what he brought to the class.  He was a spirited 18 year old who was excited about maybe some things that were getting him into trouble but also excited about being in college and doing something with his life." –Dr. Haivan Hoang, Associate Professor, English

icon for Paul Dennis Faculty Voices

Paul Dennis on Collaborative Learning

"So what if I teach them how to...choreograph a dance but they can't apply the same critical rules when going to their English lecture, or to their physics class or environmental science course.  I believe that college is there to do that for students." –Paul Dennis, Associate Professor, Dance.

Paul Dennis in Depth: Developing Student Agency

"The format of the class…takes the work out of the personal….It takes away the need to please someone.  So now they’re doing their work because it is authentic, it’s their work.  And I so much prefer that.  They embolden each other; they empower each other." –Paul Dennis, Associate Professor, Music & Dance

Paul Dennis in Depth: Creative & Critical Development

"An artist creates out of what’s inside of them.  And an audience sees from what’s inside of them.  In between, that is where art exists…And so I want the witness for my work to feel as powerful in the work that I’m presenting as I feel." –Paul Dennis, Associate Professor, Music & Dance

Paul Dennis in Depth: Feedback & Evaluation for Creative Work

"A friend of mine said don't expect what you don't inspect..." –Paul Dennis, Associate Professor, Music & Dance

Paul Dennis in Depth: Students on Critical Response Process

"I feel as though the effect on me is more a sense of community, because we’re all here to learn.  But we’re also all here to grow…this colorful group of people who come from a whole bunch of different backgrounds…The fact that we can come together and make work and see each other’s work; it gives me energy." –a student in Paul Dennis' Dance Composition Course

Jason Hooper on Collaborative Learning

"The first time I gave the course I was running into problems that I never had to solve before.  The second time I felt like I had pretty good answers for those problems. And finally about the third time I felt it all kind of jelled" –Jason Hooper, Senior Lecturer, Music and Dance

Jason Hooper in Depth: Environment Where Diversity Matters

"Maybe...difference can be voiced, because it is assumed that the groups are different, and there will be different opinions and ideas.  Partly my role as teacher is trying to generate an atmosphere where if a student has and idea they can say that idea." –Dr. Jason Hooper, Music and Dance

Jason Hooper in Depth: Designing Collaborative Assignments

"What about the activity the students are doing necessitates a group, rathe then just dividing up among a group what one might do as an individual ." –Dr. Jason Hooper, Music and Dance

Jason Hooper in Depth: Peer Evaluation and Accountability

"I think of peer evaluation as a kind of formative thing, as a way for groups to self-correct. " –Dr. Jason Hooper, Music and Dance

Jason Hooper in Depth: Assessment & Grading for Collaboration

"One of the stages in the learning process...is this bridging between the group work or the collaborative activity and then ultimately being responsible for knowing this material on one's own." –Dr. Jason Hooper, Music and Dance

Anna Branch on Collaborative Learning

I use collaborative learning so that students can think critically.” –Dr. Enobong (Anna) Hannah Branch, Sociology

Anna Branch in Depth: Elements of a Great Collaborative Activity

A great assignment forces them to think synthetically, to bring ideas and arguments together.”–Dr. Enobong (Anna) Hannah Branch, Sociology

Anna Branch in Depth: Shared Platform for Collaboration

We were able to . . . move the conversation from a place of tension and anxiety to community, camaraderie, and dialogue.” –Dr. Enobong (Anna) Hannah Branch, Sociology

Anna Branch in Depth: Assessing Abstract Learning Outcomes

What I want them to do at the end is to be a user of knowledge: to be able to engage the ideas, to think them through, and to share them with others.” –Dr. Enobong (Anna) Hannah Branch, Sociology

Anna Branch in Depth: Collaborative Learning and disAbility

It’s not just enough to teach students the other side, they have to be able to come to it.” –Dr. Enobong (Anna) Hannah Branch, Sociology

Scott Auerbach on Collaborative Learning

"The way to engage students is to do it from Day 1...and they are ready to be engaged.  But we can't wait; we have to do it as soon as we possibly can." –Dr. Scott Auerbach, Chemistry

Stephanie Purington on iCons

"It is not about diving in and giving them an opinion or an answer; it's about asking questions to help lead them to their own ideas, to lead them to their own path." –Stephanie Purington, PhD candidate in Education and iCons Teaching Assistant

Scott Auerbach in Depth: How iCons Works

"[T]hree different kinds of classroom experiences in iCons: students presenting..., students in their teams and in engaged in some way to reach a goal..., and figur[ing] out some new key skill that we want to start to build." –Dr. Scott Auerbach, Chemistry

Scott Auerbach in Depth: Students Solving Real World Problems

"We normally have them write a reflection piece after a significant kind of plot point in the class." –Dr. Scott Auerbach, Chemistry

Megan Lewis Thumbnail

Megan Lewis on Collaborative Learning

To understand what I think about collaborative learning, you have to understand what I think about theater.” –Dr. Megan Lewis, Assistant Professor, Theater

Megan Lewis in Depth: Team Formation

What we are modeling for them is how to collaborate, in other words, how to be professional theater people.” –Dr. Megan Lewis, Theater

Megan Lewis in Depth: Encountering Difference in Teams

We specifically put a group of people together who otherwise may not ever have had conversations with each other, and they ended up creating a really stellar piece of work that was addressing the very kinds of dyamics that would have kept them apart in the first place.” –Dr. Megan Lewis, Theater

Megan Lewis in Depth: Risk, Play, & Politics in the Classroom

Why do I care about the stakes of representation? Why do I care about the the way in which we other people and debase them and degrade them?  It's because I grew up on the privileged side of apartheid in South Africa.” –Dr. Megan Lewis, Theater

Megan Lewis in Depth: Talking about Race in the Classroom

How do you create a safe space for people of color and white students simultaneously, in a predominantly white institution like UMass?” –Dr. Megan Lewis, Theater