Attending the Transformative Learning Conference as a First-Time Attendee
Written by Therese Williams, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UCO College of Business ISOM –
As a first-year Assistant Professor at UCO, I received a wonderful opportunity to attend the 2018 Transformative Learning Conference in Oklahoma City. In exchange for volunteering one day of the conference I was able to attend one day with the registration fee waived. I worked at the registration desk for the first day on Thursday. I believe that I enjoyed that as much as I did attending the conference on Friday! I met wonderful people who volunteer their time to make sure that the conference runs smoothly. I was able to meet and visit with many other attendees at times registration was not slammed with those picking up name tags and programs. It was a great experience.
On Friday, I attended sessions. I especially enjoyed Peter Felton’s Plenary Session “Partnering with Students for Transformative Learning” and his afternoon workshop “Viewing Transformative Learning through the Lens of SoTL.” (http://sites.uco.edu/central/tl/conference/2018conference/SpeakerInfo.asp) As a new professor, the ideas of Transformative Learning and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning are all new to me and I find them enlightening. I was able to take this opportunity to learn more about them and to focus on how I would be able to use these concepts in my own growth and the growth of my students.
The workshop that was held by Peter Felton was particularly helpful in working out a problem that I experienced just the evening before in a class. In technology classes I tend to demonstrate concepts while discussing them and encourage students to work along with me. During this particular class, it was apparent that the majority of students were not working along with me and were not really paying attention but were probably working on the assignment that was due later that evening. Because of the nature of the class I cannot really restrict computer usage during this time. I really do want them to work on the computer on the examples that I am demonstrating. At the end of class when I asked if there were any other questions and I received several that were exact duplicates of questions that had been asked (and answered) at the beginning of and during class, I became very frustrated.
When Peter Felton encouraged us to use our classroom experiences to develop a research idea I was eager to zone in on this problem. My original question of “Why don’t students pay attention when I’m discussing and demonstrating technical issues?” went through several iterations until, with the help of others at my workshop table, it became “In your opinion, what is the best use of your time during the class period?” While I attempted to make it a research problem; it became a simple question to ask my class. I created an anonymous online poll that asked this with multiple-choice responses of “Working examples along with the professor”, “Working examples on my own”, “Working on assignments”, “Working with other students on group projects” and “Something Else”. Sixty-two percent of the class chose “Working on Assignments.” Based on responses to this one question, I have begun to make some changes to how this particular class is organized. I am in the process of ‘flipping’ the classroom so that students will review the material before the class period and come with questions. I spend a few minutes discussing questions and then giving them assignments they can begin to work in class. It is too early to tell if this will be successful, but at least the students were involved in the decision and will have some ownership of the results!
I also attended a roundtable session “Interdisciplinary SoTL Scholar Research” which was very informative and furthered my interest in planning a research project in this field. Marty Ludlum, Linda Harris, Sam Ladwig and Jill Lambeth from UCO were all very sharing with how they developed their projects and some of the insights they were able to publish as a result.
Another valuable roundtable session was “Transformative Learning Across Business Disciplines” led by Marty Ludlum and Randy Ice of the UCO College of Business. I enjoyed hearing how they were implementing other disciplines into the study of another. I would really like to have the opportunity to have more exposure to transformative learning trends in business areas.
The day ended with short poster presentations of various projects including many that involved students in the research.
I considered both of the days that I attended the Transformative Learning Conference as a valuable use of my time and I hope that I will have the opportunity to attend one or both days next year!
(The word cloud above was created at https://wordart.com/ and used the words from the 2018 TLC program.)