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K-State Today

August 3, 2015



Architecture professor presents papers at Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State University teaching conferences

By Mick Charney

Mick Charney, associate professor of architecture and university distinguished teaching scholar, conducted the workshop "Hint Fiction, Vivid Grammar, and Word Clouds: Jump-Starting the Writing Imperative in Large Classes" at the inaugural Teaching Large Classes Conference July 23 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Charney's workshop demonstrated a variety of methods by which short, but meaningful writing assignments, can be introduced into even the largest classes in ways that enhance deep learning. Low-stakes exercises such as hint fiction pieces, vivid grammar doodled quizzes and collaborative word clouds improve students' long-term retention of course content while doubling as antidotes to millennials' distractedness. Yet they take little time in class, are easily assessed, leverage students' innate creative urges, and engage even the most jaded students.

Charney also delivered the paper "Reclaiming the Lecture: Students' Positive Perceptions of Large Lecture Classes" at that same Virginia Tech conference.

He argued that, while the time-honored lecture teaching format remains the signature pedagogy of so many large introductory courses just exactly because it facilitates massive information transfers to multitudes of students, it has nevertheless been roundly condemned for its impersonal, passive, and unengaging nature. Charney presented the results of a survey of several hundred undergraduate students on their attitudes about large classes; and their responses indicate that they are not as adverse to such classes as one might suspect. From that data, he was able to suggest ways by which instructors can capitalize on students' positive perceptions of large classes and thereby reclaim the art of lecturing for a new age.

Charney delivered this same paper at the Big 12 Teaching and Learning Conference July 30 at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Charney also presented "Decoding Disney: Translating Imagineering Tricks into Teaching Strategies" at the conference.

Convinced that educators can learn much from the Disney brand of entertainment and its operational practices, Charney, who is an honorary Disney Imagineer, enumerated a full array of cleverly calculated Disney theme park secrets and then explained how each one, in turn, can be translated into enriched teaching strategies and memorable learning experiences.

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