James M. Lang, Author of On Course, to be the CTE’s Plenary Speaker this Coming Friday

I wanted to alert this blog’s readers that James M. Lang, author of On Course (Harvard UP, 2008), will be our CTE Conference Plenary Speaker this Friday morning from 9:30-11am in the Houston Room of the UC.  (For those interested in more information about Lang’s book, you will find an Inside Higher Ed article about Lang here, and a review of the book here.)

Lang’s address, which is entitled, “Speaking about Cheating: Teaching for Academic Integrity,” is drawn from his current research on cheating in higher education.

In the afternoon, Lang will serve as a respondent to our TA panel on “Mid-Course Corrections,” and UH TAs will use Chapter 11 of On Course, “Re-Energizing the Classroom,” as the basis of their discussion.  One of the reasons why I like this book so much is its recognition that teaching over a semester is in part a matter of physical and emotional stamina, and that good teachers know how to pace themselves, anticipate the moments when they and their students seem to run out of energy, and reserve a few strategies for exactly those moments when teachers need to switch up.

Among the ideas discussed in this chapter, my personal favorite  is what Lang calls “inkshedding”  (pp. 239-40), and it consists of asking each student in class to write freely for 5 minutes on the topic of the day, without interrupting themselves to judge, edit, or correct what they have done (this is what composition and rhetoric teachers call “free-writing.”  At the end of the five minutes, the students hand over their completed page to the next student, and write in response to the page they have just received, for another five minutes.  This goes on through several iterations, for about 20-25 minutes, so that all students have been engaged in a written debate with several class members in succession.  At that point, all the students, even the shyest ones, are ready to discuss the topic with one another in person.  This variation on low-stakes writing and group-work is a nice way to break up the dominance of the most verbally adept students in class discussions, and make sure that everyone’s contributions are heard and registered in a class.

So please come this Friday to hear James M. Lang speak about how we might teach in ways that reinforce academic integrity among our students.






One Comment on “James M. Lang, Author of On Course, to be the CTE’s Plenary Speaker this Coming Friday”

  1. Miranda Bennett says:

    I’m on the final pages of “On Course” and have really enjoyed it. Although the primary audience is new college teachers, I think it has a lot to offer more experienced professors, too, especially those who teach with TAs or mentor junior colleagues. Its appealing, conversational tone and practical content would make it a terrific choice for a book discussion group, and I can attest from personal experience that reading few pages here and there is a great way to try out Lang’s advice to make the most of the small bits of time you’ll need to learn to use effectively because the uninterrupted stretches you fantasize about will simply never, ever appear.

    And did I mention that if you come to the conference you have a chance to win a copy of “On Course,” courtesy of the UH Libraries?

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