Teachers leadng teachers
Kim C. Graber and Bertram C. "Chip" Bruce are the 2006-2007 Distinguished Teacher/Scholars. Graber is a professor of kinesiology and community health in the College of Applied Health Sciences; Bruce is a professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science with zero-time appointments in curriculum and instruction in the College of Education and in bioengineering in the College of Engineering,. Graber and Bruce are leading a series of discussion sessions on the scholarship of teaching and learning that they hope will inspire participants to develop team projects that involve civic engagement, cross-disciplinary collaboration or new roles for teachers and students.
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Edit embedded media in the Files Tab and re-insert as needed.
The Teaching Advancement Board recently selected Bertram C. “Chip” Bruce and Kim C. Graber as its Distinguished Teacher/Scholars for the 2006-2007 academic year. The program recognizes outstanding faculty members who actively enhance teaching and learning on campus and the program supports innovative projects that recipients develop as part of the selection process. Distinguished Teacher/Scholars serve as consultants and mentors to other faculty members and departments seeking to explore new instructional methods and revitalize their teaching programs. Bruce and Graber will be honored at the Annual Faculty Retreat for Active Learning on Feb. 9 at the Illini Union.
Bertram C. “Chip” Bruce, a professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science with zero-time appointments in curriculum and instruction in the College of Education and in bioengineering in the College of Engineering, said that certain courses and instructors that he encountered during his collegiate career instilled in him a sense of loathing rather than a love of learning. “I took a lot of courses that I never wanted to go to again, and I never wanted to see the professor again,” Bruce said.
So, Bruce, who also teaches in the Center for Writing Studies and the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, was moved when graduate student and former high-school English teacher Suzhen Chen was so inspired by his Inquiry-Based Learning course that she chose to take it twice. “That meant a lot to me, that she really understands that learning has no top to it and it’s never ending, that you can come back to something and go deeper and further,” Bruce said.
In Kim C. Graber’s Qualitative Research Methods course, groups of students develop projects that engage community members in some form of physical activity for about two months and collect data on the process. Last year, a group of graduate students in the class, which contains both undergraduate and graduate students, also studied Graber’s teaching methods – and whether the projects actually enhanced undergraduates’ learning.
“I learned a lot,” said Graber, who is a professor of kinesiology and community health in the College of Applied Health Sciences. “I discovered what worked and what required improvement” and received valuable feedback that she otherwise might not have gotten, Graber said.
“I don’t think I’ve met anyone who cares more about teaching than Kim does,” said Gardner Rogers, former program coordinator for the Ethnography of the University, a cross-campus project that sponsors undergraduate research about the UI. Graber is teaching the Qualitative Methods course as an EOTU course this fall.
Bruce and Graber share a passion for teaching and learning, and for connecting pedagogy with experiences outside the university. Graber has published widely on teacher socialization, teacher education and research methods, and was an invited keynote speaker at the 2002 Healthy Schools Summit in Washington, D.C., an event aimed at addressing childhood obesity that was presided over by Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General.
Bruce, who has published extensively on learning and technologies, developed The Inquiry Page, a collaborative virtual environment used to support students’ EOTU research, and co-directs the Community Informatics Initiative, a UI program that fosters cross-collaborations and develops community computer networks, technology centers and library services. The CII is facilitating collaborations between the UI and community-based organizations in distressed urban areas, such as the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago and the East St. Louis Action Research Project.
As the Distinguished Teacher/Scholars for 2006-2007, Bruce and Graber are leading a new initiative called “Inquiries Into Inquiry,” a program that is providing a supportive environment for the exploration of teaching and learning through thoughtful dialogue and collaborative, community-based projects.
During the first five weeks of the program, which began Sept. 18, participants are meeting twice weekly for discussion/reading sessions focused on the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Additionally, faculty members also are being invited to propose team projects that would involve civic engagement, cross-disciplinary collaboration or new roles for teachers and students. With support from the Office of the Provost and the Center for Teaching Excellence, the program will provide up to $1,000 in project development support.
“So often, we think of learning as occurring only in the classroom, only with the textbook and with assignments, and we forget to help students make important connections to the outside world,” Graber said. “Yet, when you talk to students, they always want that connection, that extra experience. It’s also an opportunity for people to see that teaching doesn’t have to occur in isolation from one’s research. Teaching, research and service can all work together and complement each other.”
According to Graber and Bruce, teaching can become a reciprocal process of discovery where students and teachers learn about themselves and the world around them – and learn from each other.
“Faculty members are used to putting themselves in the role of the expert, and to say ‘I’m learning along with you’ takes some courage,” Bruce said.
About the limited goals and proscribed content that traditional instruction often entails, Bruce said: “I’m not sure the traditional method of teaching works all that well. It’s very easy to make people sit in rows and go through certain exercises, but all too often they walk out of the classroom, they never want to read that subject again and they don’t remember what they have read because they were only doing it to please the instructor, not for intrinsic satisfaction.”
Bruce, who spent 16 years working in research and development in a software development firm between faculty appointments at Rutgers University and Illinois, said that his experiences working on collaborative projects showed him “how much you can learn when you work together with people on projects that you really care about. Meaningful learning doesn’t occur unless you have a real purpose that truly matters to you.”
Distinguished Teacher/Scholars The Distinguished Teacher/Scholar Program, sponsored by the Teaching Advancement Board and the Office of the Provost, honors and supports outstanding instructors who take an active role in promoting learning on campus. Although the appointment lasts one year, honorees carry the designation with them throughout their UI careers. A complete list of honorees since the program’s inception in 1999:
- Bertram C. Bruce, Graduate School of Library and Information Science*
- Philip Buriak, agricultural engineering
- O. Vernon Burton, history
- Cleora D’Arcy, crop sciences
- Paul F. Diehl, political science
- James A. Gentry, finance
- Kim C. Graber, kinesiology and community health*
- Gail E. Hawisher, English
- Steve Helle, journalism
- Paul Kelter, chemistry
- J. Bruce Litchfield, engineering
- Michael C. Loui, electrical and computer engineering
- Lenny Pitt, computer science
- Robert Reid, journalism (posthumous award)
- Shelly J. Schmidt, food chemistry
- Thomas Schwandt, educational psychology
- Linda C. Smith, library and information science
- Joseph C. Squier, art and design
- Arlette Willis, curriculum and instruction
*Appointed this year