Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning announces 2019-21 CATL Scholars

Three professors will work on projects that explore the relevance of literature in the core curriculum, inclusivity in a high-impact classroom, and objective data to provide feedback to instructors on active learning.

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning has named Elon University professors Kevin Bourque, Doug Kass, and Brandon Sheridan CATL Scholars for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. These new CATL Scholars will join 44 current or past CATL scholars including current scholars Scott Windham (German), Renay Aumiller (Dance), Scott Morrison (Education), and Shannon Duvall and Duke Hutchings (Computing Sciences).

The CATL Scholar program fosters innovative and scholarly teaching and learning. Echoing the Elon Teacher-Scholar statement, the CATL Scholars program is designed so that participants engage deeply with the shared goals of our academic community and develop highly innovative projects.

Assistant Professor of English Kevin Bourque’s project aims to rearticulate the relevance of literature to a 21st-century curriculum and to reshape the core literature requirement at Elon accordingly.

In its first year, the project will survey literary instruction nationally, with special attention to contemporary problems literary skills can help address: such as civic responsibility, feeling, affect and the processing of emotion, and pressing contemporary issues.

Based on these findings, the project will develop guidelines for the effective and innovative teaching of literature, including, a process for vetting first-year literature courses, a guide for instructors, and a series of workshops, as well as a co-authored pedagogical article with a student research assistant.

Doug Kass, assistant professor of communications, will focus on the High-Impact Inclusive Classroom. Building on a Diversity and Inclusion Grant project, his project aims to use inclusivity as the fuel for a more motivated, more diverse, more cultured and more expansive approach to learning.

Starting first with a pilot course, Kass will redesign group and individual assignments to create opportunities for every student to participate by bringing in a perspective, interest or identity about which they feel strongly. He will craft these assignments to build on existing choice and agency strategies, seeing how they can be amplified through the lens of inclusivity, toward the goal of creating a more dynamic inclusive classroom.

Brandon Sheridan, assistant professor of economics, plans to improve student-learning outcomes by using objective classroom data provided through a new software tool (DART) to provide feedback to instructors on how our perceptions of the amount of active learning happening in the classroom compare to reality.

The hope is that with objective data  instructors who have voluntarily adopted active-learning methods will have additional incentive to increase their use of active-learning strategies. Sheridan’s project will (1) collect data on active learning, (2) administer surveys of instructors and students about their perceptions of classroom learning, and (3) synthesize this information into recommendations and guidelines for a self-directed active-learning accountability structure.

A call for applications for CATL Scholars is announced early each fall. All full-time faculty are encouraged to apply. CATL Scholars are selected by a faculty committee comprised of other Scholars and CATL faculty advisory committee members.