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College of Humanities & Social Sciences

What do the best college teachers do? Ask Kelly Duke-Bryant!

Kelly Duke-Bryant, Assistant Professor of History, was among a select group of faculty who attended the 17th Annual Best Teachers Summer Institute this past June.  Based on Ken Bain's award-winning and best selling book What the Best College Teachers Do* (Harvard University Press, 2004), the three-day institute focused on best practices in college education.  In addition to the application, a statement of interest was required—Dr. Duke-Bryant's must have been compelling, since she was among those chosen to participate. When asked what she took away from the institute, Dr. Duke-Bryant shared the following three impressions: 

"Faculty should focus on encouraging deep learning in their students, and deep learning most often occurs when students have the opportunity to answer questions or solve problems that they find important or innately interesting. This is challenging, because we don't typically let students design courses.  But, I do intend to offer more opportunities for students to explore topics--within the confines of my courses--that they find especially interesting.  This will give them more control over the learning experience and, I hope, help to produce deep learning." 

"Faculty should think about their course descriptions and syllabi as an invitation--to the students as learners.  We should therefore choose language that reflects this-instead of telling students what they ‘must' or ‘will be required' to do, we should entice them.  I already use warm and inviting language in my syllabi, but I will ensure that I am doing this to the extent possible.  I will then try to carry this idea of learning as an invitation into the classroom, in terms of the way I interact with my students, teach the material, and present the various learning activities in which we will engage." 

" With regard to assessment and academic integrity, faculty might consider allowing students to build their own package of assessments in order to show mastery of a topic/skill.  They could choose activities from various categories (essay, research paper, creative project, book review, test, presentation, etc); this would be designed in such a way that no student could totally avoid any one category.  This would give students a choice, provide them with multiple opportunities to succeed, and encourage them to think about assessment as a way to show what they've learned (rather than merely as an opportunity to earn a grade)."               

Plans are underway for Dr. Duke-Bryant to share her experience with other Rowan faculty by way of a Faculty Center workshop.  We appreciate her deep commitment to teaching students and colleagues alike! 

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Dr. Kelly Duke-Bryant, History
Dr. Kelly Duke-Bryant, History