Chris Leupold and Ben McFadyen presenters at 2011 Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning
Christopher Leupold, associate professor of Psychology and program coordinator of Leadership Studies, and Ben McFadyen, academic technology consultant from Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL), presented sessions at the annual Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching in Bethesda, Maryland June 3-5.
Leupold presented two poster sessions, one regarding a pedagogical strategy for teaching authentic leadership, and the other about how perceived fairness and support between faculty and students affects learning. McFadyen presented a session about how faculty and support staff can enhance their working relationships as clients, consultants, and partners.
In “Applying the Life Story Approach to Teaching Leadership”, Leupold described a course that focused on how the life story approach can lead to more fully understanding a person’s past, present and future, an approach that has gained popularity and credibility over recent decades. The concept of authentic leadership, a form of leadership that requires tight alignment between behavior and values on a variety of dimensions, has similarly grown in popularity in business and academic settings. In a course in which authentic leadership was the core topic, students completed an intensive life-story assignment. The presentation included specific processes and elements of the life-story assignment, as well as its positive outcomes and implications.
His second session entitled ”If You Show You Really Care, I Will Learn More”, discussed an empirical research study he completed with Christie Kelley who is a 2009 Elon College Fellow graduate is currently a doctoral student in Clemson University’s industrial/ organizational psychology program. The study incorporated two frequently discussed variables in organizational behavior research, organizational justice (OJ) and perceived organizational support (POS), into a college classroom environment. POS (the extent to which students felt supported by the instructor); and OJ (the extent to which students felt the instructor treated them fairly) were found to not only predict students’ final course grades, but also their self-efficacy around their ability to improve. POS and OJ also significantly predicted their course evaluations of the instructor. Specific findings and their implications were presented, including how instructors can elevate POS and OJ in their classrooms.
McFadyen’s session dealt with how technology can position faculty and staff as consultant, client, and partners to explore various paths to meet pedagogical and classroom needs. Entitled “Mindful Technology: Protecting Ourselves and Faculty from Tidal Waves of Information”, McFadyen proposed that technology consultants have a responsibility to carefully listen to faculty and students and shield them from techno-babble, from the recurring avalanche of information that often drowns potential improvements in learning. He discussed how consultants might help faculty clarify and focus on their goals by asking questions rather than answering them, and by providing vetted roadmaps, using technology as tools, not determinants of content or experience.
The presentation examined how some new technologies are introduced by following persuasive and disruptive marketing schemes for products such as smart phones or pads, designed to change behavior by reframing social, personal, or business contexts which then create problems that need the solutions provided by the new software, hardware, or web applications. He suggested that some technology has become both goal and experience; its purpose often subjugated behind ring tones, touch screens, clouds, or ‘there’s an app for that’. He described one marketing campaign that contains the tag line: “People when you need them, technology when you don’t”, and how this attitude may permeate and affect education. The group discussed how the appetite for newer models and releases of software or hardware has become the social equivalent of smoking crack, that the “medium has indeed become the message: the technology has become the experience.”
In the presentation, McFadyen described how fallout from the over-saturation of information technology might create social and organizational pressures to adopt technologies that may or may not be needed – or wanted. “That’s where the technology consultant can make the greatest contribution”, he said. “Technology, at its core, refers to the practical application of knowledge, which is not always represented by hardware or software.”