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Friday, June 24 • 10:00 - 10:50
CON11.10 - “Risk-Full Thinking”: Student Vulnerability and Risk-Taking in the Classroom

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The university classroom has been under especially tight scrutiny recently with articles debating the use and value of safe spaces (e.g., Shulevitz, 2015; Gay, 2015) and trigger warnings (e.g., Lukianoff & Haidt, 2015) and what role these protective measures should play in higher education. Students are acknowledging the risk it takes to participate in class, and asking for support. Faculty are wanting to continue to challenge and develop their students. Ultimately, this debate is about the way classes -- traditional and online -- are structured and facilitated. Indeed, “the classroom is the crossroads where the social and academic meet” (Tinto, 1997, p. 599). This is true for all classes, but perhaps most relevant in student-centered ones in which students are expected to be active participants in and take responsibility for their own learning. Often students resist this student-centered model (Weimer, 2002); after all, it requires they take risks and become vulnerable. Students may especially fear professor or peer criticism when sharing aloud in class, as those interpersonal interactions are the “most powerful source of learning” for the student (Terenzini, et. al 1999, p. 619).

Participants in this session will reflect on their personal experiences of risk-taking in learning and hear student perspectives on this topic from research conducted at Bryn Mawr College in 2015. They will come away with an understanding of the value in prompting risk-taking as well as practice active learning that models ways to prompt risk-taking. Participants will have an opportunity to brainstorm ways to do this in their own teaching and receive peer feedback. Finally, they will end this session with concrete ideas for how to prompt risk-taking in their own classrooms.

avatar for Sophia Abbot

Sophia Abbot

Fellow for Student-Faculty Collaboration, Trinity University
Sophia Abbot is a Fellow for Student-Faculty Collaboration at Trinity University's Collaborative for Learning and Teaching. She has published previously on student voice in the context of privilege and identity, and on mapping classroom interactions.

Friday June 24, 2016 10:00 - 10:50 EDT
UCC 65