Thanks to all who attended and participated in the Provost’s Forum on Engaged Learning with David Paris this past week. About 50 Providence College faculty, administrators, and staff came to hear Dr. Paris talk about the concept of signature work. They then shared their thoughts on what they thought signature work might look like at PC and what barriers to signature work exist right now. There was great energy and conversation in the room - we think the event was a real success!
If you have any follow up thoughts or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Bill Hogan, Sheila Adamus Liotta, or Jennifer Van Reet. Dr. Paris also generously invited us to let him know if we have additional questions and/or comments. So, if the three of us cannot answer your question, we will pass it along!
Our next step will be to compile and digest all the thoughts and ideas we gathered at this forum and then develop a plan for how to move forward. Stay tuned for what's to come!
Research on the science of teaching and learning has identified 10 "high-impact educational practices". These are experiences that seem to benefit students at all different types of institutions and students from all types of backgrounds. Examples include service learning, writing intensive courses, and capstone courses/senior theses. See the full list here: www.aacu.org/leap/hips
What does this have to do with signature work at PC? Well, part of the reason these 10 practices are so impactful is that they often provide the opportunity for students to engage in meaningful, integrative work. Many of these practices are already being implemented at PC! We will periodically highlight some of this activity, starting with undergraduate research.
Many PC students work alongside faculty mentors conducting cutting-edge scholarship. This happens in all disciplines - from Chemistry to English, at all levels - freshman to seniors. In addition to deepening skills like problem solving and critical thinking, students form meaningful relationships with their faculty mentors. Sometimes students are able to present this work at conferences or even publish their findings! PC supports student researchers in many ways, like offering academic year and summer grants.
Learn more about what research PC students are conducting here: www.providence.edu/research.
How can Providence College help more of our students complete a ‘signature project’ -- that is, a major intellectual work that reflects the diversity of a student’s curricular and co-curricular learning -- during their time here? How can we help students be more intentional about integrating the learning they do in the Core Curriculum with the work they are doing in their majors?
Please join the Center for Engaged Learning and the School of Arts and Sciences for a presentation and conversation on these and related topics at the latest installment of the Provost’s Forum on Student Engagement:
Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2016
Time: 3-5 pm
Place: Aquinas Lounge
We will begin with a presentation by David Paris (AAC&U) introducing the ideas of ‘signature work’ and ‘integrative learning,’ and reviewing some of the recent research about the correlation between these practices and student engagement.
Then, we will spend time in structured conversation with campus colleagues about what ‘signature work’ might look like in different disciplines and departments at Providence College, and about ways to promote our students’ thoughtful integration of their various academic and co-curricular experiences.
Refreshments will be served.
David Paris is Senior Scholar in the Office of Integrative Learning and Global Commons at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, D.C. For many years, he has been a leading thinker about teaching and learning in Higher Education, as well as an advocate for the value of a liberal education in today’s world of ‘unscripted problems.’ David is currently Editor-in-Chief of Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.
This past weekend, the core team had the pleasure of attending a working meeting with representatives of the seven other New England schools participating in this Signature Work LEAP Challenge and several representatives from AAC&U. We heard how all the other schools are thinking about signature work and how they are trying to build capacity for it at their institutions. We shared ideas for overcoming obstacles, big and small. Thanks to all the great advice we received and all the positive energy in the room, the core team came away re-invigorated and excited to keeping working on our First Year Experience and E-Portfolio initiatives. We also heard a lot about the importance of communicating our progress, so we decided to start this blog!
Good question! The truth is that "signature work" can be a lot of different things, from work done in a capstone course, a senior thesis, a co-curricular project, a study abroad experience... the list goes on and on. But, not every senior thesis or semester abroad counts as signature work! The defining features of signature work are that it integrates learning from a wide variety of domains, both curricular and co-curricular, and it is meaningful to the student. In other words, it is the student's signature achievement, a culminating experience or project that draws upon his/her personal background, coursework completed in and outside the major, and non-academic events.
The next important question is "What is signature work at PC?" Because "signature work" is a fairly broad term, schools must interpret it in the context of their own missions, student populations, curricula, and extant strengths. We know there is already lots of wonderful work happening here at PC - research, service, capstones - that fits the definition of signature work. But, we also know not all students participate in this type of work. Our goal is to remove barriers to signature work that some students face and make "signature work" an experience that all PC students share.
This blog was created as a way to update the PC community on the work being done as the result of our participation in the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U)'s LEAP Challenge New England Institutions Initiative (phew - that's quite a mouthful, we know!). You can read more about how PC got involved in this initiative on the "About" page. In a sentence, we are trying to figure out how to make it so that all PC students graduate having done some sort of "signature work" during their time here. This blog will be a place you can come to in order to learn about signature work, what we are doing, and track our progress. If you have ideas, feedback, or suggestions, please submit them on the "Contact" page - we would love to hear from you!