Assignment

Facilitating for The Messy Mind

Submitted by Marissa Mourer on November 6th, 2017
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Short Description: 

Through a partnership between english composition and library faculty, a composition course focused on the exploration of discourse communities and led to student engagement with the ACRL frames, authority is constructed and contextual and scholarship as conversation. The faculty aimed to incorporate components of contemplative pedagogy into the course through the use of highly-facilitated classroom discussions to tackle the messy mind. These facilitated activities tasked students explicitly with exploring types of authority and author credibility while implicitly guiding them through mindful speaking and listening behaviors.

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Learning Outcomes: 

Recognize that authoritative content may be packaged formally or informally and may include sources of all media types (Knowledge Domain) Identify both opportunities and barriers to entering scholarly conversations (Knowledge Domain) Give examples of the tools available to access and share authoritative content (Comprehension Domain) Consider ways to contribute to scholarly conversations at an appropriate level (Evaluation Domain)

Discipline: 
Multidisciplinary

Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

The faculty aimed to incorporate contemplative pedagogy into the course through the use of highly-facilitated classroom discussions to tackle the messy mind. These facilitated activities tasked students explicitly with exploring types of authority and author credibility while implicitly guiding them through mindful speaking and listening behaviors. The English faculty member dedicated the lecture session before the library's information literacy class to content about discourse communities and also gave an introduction to the ACRL frame, authority is constructed and contextual. Prior to the class, the English faculty shared the slides with the Library faculty for review. Similarly, librarian shared lesson plan and ideas about facilitating the library session with the English faculty member.

Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 

Time dedicated to discussion and the roles of speakers and listeners was highly structured to facilitate for greater equity in pair and share activities. While designed as a contemplative activity, the students' feedback noted that the highly structured conversations helped to actively confront some of their frustrations with pair/share and other active learning strategies. Students noted that they appreciated not receiving unsolicited advice from their peers or being interrupted or otherwise experiencing a partner monopolize the conversation. Faculty were mindful not to highly control content or require "tracking" behaviors from the students. Prompts were provided to help spark ideas and conversations around issues of authority and to introduce scholarship as conversation frame. Facilitated times and roles were designed to give each student within a pair enough time to reflect on and mindfully share and absorb information from each other. Information privilege(on information privil...) was a concept introduced by librarian that students mentioned regularly entered their conversations. It may be advised to cover this concept in the lecture-based session prior to the library session when authority frame is first introduced. Rotating of student partners was tried in one session. Here are some observed pros and cons of rotating: Pros: encouraged students to interact with multiple students; differing levels of comfort and knowledge more broadly circulated Cons: hard for students to get the context of a new area of expertise quickly enough; additional time was needed to allow for physical rotations of students and time to make introductions before jumping in. Uneven number of students in one session meant that a group of 3 students was formed. It was difficult to facilitate for equal time with the group of three while also facilitating for pairs. In the future to avoid this pitfall, the English faculty or a TA may be asked to partner for even numbers.

Suggested Citation: 
Mourer, Marissa. "Facilitating for The Messy Mind." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2017. https://www.projectcora.org/assignment/facilitating-messy-mind.