2018 February 12 - 03:45 pm

Faculty Lounge

A Summary Listing of Faculty Activities at Colleges Around the Nation

At some point in the classroom, every teacher is confronted by a student with the dreaded question, “why do I need to know this?” College students who are pursuing a major in science can struggle to understand why they need learn literature and vice-versa, said Stephanie Plain Potter, Developmental Education specialist at Alvin Community College (Texas). As employers demand workers with well-rounded skill sets, it’s imperative to make content relatable to them in the classroom, she said. The process, called contextualization, will improve student performance in all subjects, she said. “Contextualization builds confidence in their skills,” she said. Potter and developmental math specialist Andrea Manka delivered a presentation to ACC faculty during convocation about how to utilize contextualization in the classroom. “When students don’t relate to a subject, they don’t feel they need to buy into the subject,” Manka said. That creates barriers for students who need to take such courses for their degree requirements. Helping students over that obstacle will not only improve their academic performance, it will help them with their ability to transfer careers in the workforce, she said. One method is tailoring terminology in the classroom that is compatible with terminology on the job, Potter said. “This way they’ll feel more comfortable expressing what they’ve learned,” she said. Among the strategies to make content relevant is by providing information about experiences where the content is used. Instructors then must incorporate activities which require students to use the information from the course. “Engaging in hands-on problem solving activities requires the skills you’re trying to learn,” Potter said. “They’re applying new information to something they already know.” Once the activities are completed, students must then share their experiences with other students in work groups. Doing this reinforces the material they learned, Potter said. The final step in contextualization is individual writing assignments where students must describe what all they have learned from the process. If implemented properly, contextualization is a strategy that can improve student achievement while also preparing them for today’s workforce, Manka said. “It teaches skills with direct reference to the real world,” she said.


A memoir co-authored by Orange Coast College (Calif.) creative writing professor Raymond Obstfeld and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been nominated for a prestigious NCAAP Image Award, with the awards ceremony set to take place on Jan. 15, 2018. This is the third nomination for the dynamic duo, who previously won the award in 2013 for their children’s book, “What Color is My World.” Their latest book, titled “Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court,” was released last month and has been listed by the School Library Journal as one of the best books of the year. The book chronicles Abdul-Jabbar’s life from childhood through his first year in the National Basketball Association, when he changed his name from Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The story is structured around the most significant mentors in his life, including John Wooden, Wilt Chamberlain, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali. “It describes his growing commitment to social causes as well as his rise as the nation’s number one basketball player,” says Obstfeld. “Kareem hopes the book will be a guide for other kids growing up facing the kinds of obstacles he had to overcome.” The NAACP Image Awards celebrates the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors. Obstfeld has published more than 50 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction throughout his career, including five bestsellers. He has also sold more than a dozen screenplays, and has received a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award, a Delacorte Young Adult Award, and an NAACP Image Award. Obstfeld has collaborated with NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on six books, including children’s book, middle-school novels, a graphic novel, and several nonfiction books, the latest being New York Times bestseller “Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White” and “Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court.” He will be teaching a novel workshop in the upcoming Spring 2018 semester that covers the basics of novel writing, including structure, style, plotting and characterization.

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