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CANR Workshops on Teaching

posted Jan 16, 2013, 8:21 AM by Jon Sticklen

Workshop Dates and Topic Focus:

  •  January 23 (Wednesday): Backward Design
  •  February 15 (Friday): Experiential Learning
  •  March 22 (Friday): Critical Thinking


All workshops take place from 11:30 am-2:30 pm; location is PSSB 1200, and lunch is provided!


For the first workshop, please RSVP to Jennifer Patterson (patter34@anr.msu.edu) by Tuesday morning of January 22, 2013

Critical thinking comprises an emphasized competency across all majors and programs within the CANR. Experiential learning provides a frequently suggested pedagogy to foster learning. However, many curricular, classroom, and pedagogical efforts lack assessment of: a) a learner’s attainment of critical thinking and b) the role of experiential learning in fostering critical thinking as it relates to agriculture and natural resources. 


A grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Post SecondaryEducation (FIPSE) enabled Michigan State University to assess experiential,competency-based approaches to foster critical thinking. The project encompasses five learning sites across a range of experiential settings on and off campus. The project helps each site develop baseline assessment of learning, develop evidenced-based instructional interventions, evaluate the intervention’s impact on learning, and disseminate and infuse findings. As a result of the ongoing project, site leaders have developed evidence-based recommendations on how faculty can improve instructional design and implementation to foster improved student learning.


Based on this project a workshop series has been designed to help participants dive deeper into the components of:

·      Backward Design – How it can be used to develop and align learning outcomes with learning activities;

·      Experiential Learning  - How to use mindful and purposeful application of theories; and,

·      Critical Thinking – How it can be encouraged with focused stimulation in assignments and courses.


In this workshop series we will combine theory and practical examples from a classroom, a field course, and study abroad program with evidence from analysis of course/assignment design, teaching strategies and student learning.  Short-term outcomes of the workshop series aim to help faculty improve course design and implementation. Medium term outcomes of the workshop series seek to improve learning in courses and improved learning across courses within units. Thus, the workshops aim to provide a framework for faculty to develop learning outcomes, collect evidence of learning, and assess the evidence. The workshops should appeal to individual faculty seeking to improve their assignments and courses, as well as unit-level curricular teams seeking to improve learning across an entire program.  Our hope is that participants will be able to share insights they gain with faculty within their unit as we continue to engage and broaden the discussion of curriculum re-vitalization across the college.


I look forward to seeing you at the workshops!



Best regards,



N. Suzanne Lang, PhD

Interim Assistant Dean, CANR Academic Human Resources &

Director, CANR Faculty Development 

446 West Circle Drive, Room 102 

Agriculture Hall – Office of the Dean

Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan 48824