2006 Teaching and Learning Symposium

3:00-4:30 p.m., April 25, 2006
Mary Gates Commons

Session Description

Discovering Our Values As Teachers Through Our Students

Donald Chinn, Computing and Software Systems, UW Tacoma

In his book, What We Really Value: Beyond Rubrics in Teaching and Assesing Writing, Bob Broad from Illinois State discusses his quest for understanding how our values as teachers and scholars manifest themselves in the classroom. What he proposes is something called Dynamic Criteria Mapping (DCM). Instead of simply writing down what we think we value as teachers, Broad suggests that we should ask students what they think we as teachers value, based on our written feedback on their work. He visited the UW Tacoma campus to discuss his ideas and to conduct a DCM exercise in my class.

The context of the experiment was in the Computers, Ethics, and Society course at UW Tacoma (27 students). Students in the course were expected to read articles on computer technology and write summaries for them. They also participated in "public discussions" of some issue involving computer technology, where they prepared position papers both before and after the discussion. There was also a term paper on a topic of their choice.

During a class period just after one of the public discussions, Broad asked the class, "What do you think Dr. Chinn values
in your work, based on his written feedback?"

What I found was that students were interpreting my written comments in almost exactly the way I had intended them to be
interpreted. For example, among the values they inferred from my written comments were "Support your claims," "Don't be vague in summarizing an article; focus on the details," and Draw on all the readings and synthesize them to support your
point of view."

During this process, something unexpected happened. The students felt that the discussion was one-sided in that the feedback is useful to the teacher, but it did not really provide a voice for the students to express what they valued in a teacher.