Aracelie_Reflections_30 Mar

Posted by on April 13, 2010 
Filed under Reflections

Concept Map…CMap Tools…Visual Understanding Environment (VUE)…  What are these, you may ask?  They are the topics we covered in class that related to “the Leslies” chapter of Classroom Research.  One of the tools suggested for use is the Concept Map.  At the start of class, Darren introduced Jason and me to free online tools available for download in the forms of CMap Tools and VUE.  They can be used to get concepts down on “paper” and build connections through arrows, bubbles, narratives, etc.   I immediately thought of additional uses for conducting brainstorming sessions and drawing process maps.  When I sat down to apply it to my research question, I thought, “Where do even begin?  My question is not even narrowed down yet.”  So as is typical in brainstorming, I put down one or two ideas.  From there, the connections began to flow more easily.  Soon enough, Jason and I were comparing “bubbles charts”.  (I was a little jealous because his somehow looked cooler than mine.)  Eventually, we came to a stopping point, and Darren showed us how to save them on the NCC computers long enough to email them to ourselves.

The rest of class focused on Jason’s selected article, “Overcoming ‘Doom and Gloom’:  Empowering Students in Courses on Social Problems, Injustice, and Inequailty”.  In it, the author discusses the manner in which courses on social problems tend to be taught (rather negatively and without offering many solutions).  He also offers a five-step process that leads to the ultimate goal of having students move toward making structural changes as opposed to simply making individual contributions to society (e.g. helping implement a citywide literacy program rather than tutoring a single child in reading).

Going through the article we touched on how it is a jumping off point for doing SoTL research.  The author hypothesizes about several areas that might result in good SoTL questions – why teachers neglect linking social problems to individual behavior and whether constructionist or objectivist approaches create more cynicism, for example.  I was happy to see that this was the format the author chose to use.  I was a little hesitant about my own article on veterans returning to school because it seemed to be more along the line of traditional research, but after our discussion, I am seeing it as containing several potential research questions.  Although it addresses many different areas of a soldier’s transition back to civilian life – interacting with family members and other students, dealing with road rage and appreciation of “the finer things in life” – they are all areas that can be focused on within various departments at a university (psychology, academic affairs, sociology, veterans’ services).


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