Jennifer Meta Robinson
Introduction to College Teaching (A521)
This seminar is designed to help graduate students become more effective teachers and to spark ongoing interest in the intellectual challenges and possibilities that teaching presents. Faculty work in higher education includes both research and teaching, and this course will assist you in excelling at both. Fortunately, teaching is a career that you can do well with at the start and also improve on throughout a long career. In this way, it can parallel your development as a scholar and writer, and, indeed, your teaching and research can inform each other in exciting ways as you become more expert in both.
In this course, we will become familiar with the demands of an academic career and with current prescriptions for and critiques of higher education today, as well as with strategies for effective teaching and student learning. In A521, we will approach teaching and learning as culturally-embedded practices that are responsive to longstanding and shifting traditions, narratives, controversies, and expectations, as well as ones implicating cognitive structures. The course is designed to introduce students to basic instructional techniques (designing a course, leading discussion, evaluating students, etc.), within a framework that examines the disciplinary, political, and cultural implications of those techniques. The course also situates our field within the modern university and provides guidance for developing a teaching portfolio, introduces students to contemporary pedagogical theory, and encourages students to interrogate all of these ideas and practices within the context of the courses they are teaching currently.
Because no single course on pedagogy can be exhaustive, our seminar will serve as an introduction to three main topics: the context of higher education, teaching tools we can use, and politics and identity we want to consider in making pedagogical decisions. We will use these topics to work toward our central goals: to build foundational instructional knowledge, to develop a critical relationship between scholarship and teaching, and to represent our pedagogy to others.
Readings include: texts on demographics in university education and their intersections with teaching and learning, the contemporary landscape of higher education institutions, learning theories and taxonomies, critical pedagogy, lesson planning, and learning assessment basics.
Assignments include: a class observation, 4 short papers reflecting on pedagogy, 2 discussant presentations, and a statement of teaching philosophy.
Advanced Seminar in Pedagogy: Knowledge, Power, and Pedagogy (A622)
Prerequisite: Introductory graduate course in pedagogy or significant teaching experience
Counts for: Graduate Certificate in College Pedagogy
Open to: Graduate students and other post baccalaureate students from any field
This advanced seminar in college pedagogy invites graduate students from across campus to collaborate on intensive investigation into theories of knowledge and power as they apply to higher education. It engages with the current public and practitioner debates about the purpose of higher education, the character of that experience, and the responsibilities and identities of the people participating in its many roles. Our exploration will open to scrutiny both intentional and tacit instances — practices, structures, rhetoric, popular representations, technological mediations, and other artifacts — that make academic culture available for study.
We will approach teaching and learning as culturally-embedded practices that are responsive to longstanding and shifting traditions, narratives, controversies, and expectations and that have theoretical and political implications. Using critical theories and methods we study together, we discuss such questions as:
What is college-level learning, how is it achieved, and what does it allow students to do?
What contemporary theories of knowledge and power usefully unpack the relationship between teaching and learning in academia?
How are vernacular, indigenous, alternative, or dissenting theories of knowledge situated in the academy? What can be learned from them?
What impact do our instructional decisions and their genealogies have on our students? Whom do they privilege and whom do they disadvantage?
How is knowledge deployed as power in college settings? How is it pragmatically negotiated in the classroom?
What roles do sex, gender, race, class, affect, and culture have in classroom knowledge, power, and pedagogy?
In addition to theoretical discussion, this seminar also invites participants to reflect on and investigate the decisions they make (and will make) in their own teaching, in order to articulate an intentional (as opposed to simply received or personally appealing) pedagogy. This course does not require that you be teaching a course of your own during the semester; however, you will need to carefully examine the educational sites that you occupy as teacher, learner, or critical observer. Our discussions will also come to bear on concrete educational practice through assignments about the design of lessons and syllabi and through investigation of student learning. The seminar will provide lively and constructive opportunities for dissemination to and review by peers of both practical results and thought experiments. Through the course, you will be introduced to other members of the teaching community at Indiana University and across the country.
Written work will include a course syllabus, a teaching statement, a teaching dossier, and a self-direct, critical essay on the relationship between teaching and learning (teacher and learners) as performed in a particular setting, text, film, or other re/presentation.
Food and Culture (E621)
This course investigates food as a medium of cultural performance and communication. Now, as the global food industry meets responses from local and traditional populations, is an especially productive moment to develop more nuanced understanding of how food functions in language, icons, values, and power systems. In Food and Culture, we examine how people use food, as well as language and symbols about food, in contemporary performances of everyday life; in such events as rituals, spectacles, festivals, or fairs; and in environmental sustainability and other activist movements. We will address questions about how people use food and language about food to communicate their values, how they use them to advance social ends, and how food intersects with identity issues, including race, class, and gender.
Graduate students in this course will work to a standard of mastery that reflects your advanced status and immersion in course topics. You will write a 15-20-page paper that either builds on one of the assignments in class or takes on an additional topic of interest to you. This will require you to identify and complete additional readings beyond the syllabus. You will facilitate one class session, and you will attend approximately five additional graduate-only class meetings. I will announce other shorter assignments based on our discussions.
I encourage you to cooperate with your fellow graduate students on the course topics and, especially, to meet as a cohort on a weekly basis at a time and place of your choosing (in addition to class meetings).
Formal Graduate Student Advising
I advise graduate students in doctoral, master's, and independent studies. Topics for these projects have included food waste among American college students, the culture of the local food movement, creative representation of domesticity, cognitive complexity in political humor, preparing future faculty, and scholarship of teaching and learning for student affairs professionals.
Graduate Certificate in College Pedagogy
For more information about Graduate Study in Pedagogy at Indiana University, including Graduate Certificate in College Pedagogy, please contact me directly.