Monthly Archives: October 2012

CIPs Teaching Tips – Fall 2012 #9 “Why should I care?”

The most recent Tomorrow’s Professor Blog post discusses how to challenge your students AND get them motivated to learn.  You can read the complete post here: Below are some of the types of tips mentioned in the post that many instructors here already do. As always, we can learn a lot from each other. These methods are not only anecdotally successful, there is research behind them as well.

Show your students how the goals of your course and the assignments you ask them to complete make sense. First be sure students are clear about what you want them to do. Make it seem doable. Then connect the assignment to the goals of the course. Finally connect those goals to your students’ lives and future careers.  Do this in a way that makes sense to your students, not just to you or your colleagues.

If possible, have students set goals for themselves or their small group. This isn’t always possible to do for an entire course but can be applied to a particular assignment. An example would be to let students choose two out of three objectives to demonstrate with their project. They figure out how to accomplish this (within whatever guidelines you set). Make sure they run their draft or idea by you for approval so there are no unhappy surprises.  [You can apply this to form as well: if students are required to write a three-page paper to communicate X, why not let them write an epic poem, short story, or news report to do the same thing. If citing sources is an integral and needed component, have them do footnotes. They are still required to write, but they can choose the form their writing takes.]

Further connect the goals of the course to their applicable value. Why should students care about your course? Maybe they don’t realize the difference this type of knowledge or these skills can make in the world. Don’t assume that they do. Facilitate exploratory discussions to help students discover the benefits of course concepts and skills to themselves and to others in the world. Solving real problems, using case studies, and doing service learning are just a few ways that can help to reinforce this value recognition.

Raise the stakes. If students produce work that will be seen or judged by external audiences it can raise their engagement and challenge them to do better work. Displaying the work in the college community or online, showing the work to an advisory board or group of professionals, or creating a compilation publication can all affect student effort. Make sure students know from the start that their work will be seen by others.

With a little effort on your part, incorporating some of these ideas into your instructional design could make the following statement true: Transparent Connections + >Perceived Value = > Student Engagement and Quality of Work.

here’s to valuing what we do,


Cinse Bonino, Director

Located on the second floor of the Miller Information Commons (the library) across from the printer – MIC 205

Contact Director Cinse Bonino for a one-on-one CIP instructional design session:

Email: or Phone: 802 651 5965 Skype: cinse.cip


CIPs Teaching Tips – Fall 2012 #8 “Here I am, stuck in the middle with you”

A college course is very much a relationship between the professor and his or her students. Round about midterm, the relationship usually has begun to settle into a pattern. Sometimes not everyone involved is happy with that pattern, and as in many relationships, not everyone communicates well about how they think the relationship is doing. Midterm can be your last chance for improving the professor-student relationship in your courses. One effective way to do this is to ask students to anonymously provide feedback that will help you to create an effective learning environment. What you ask them to tell you and how your respond to what they disclose are the two most important parts of this process.

What you ask them: Note cards can be used (if handwriting won’t be recognizable based on the structure of your class) to solicit the answer to one question on the back and another on the front. Ask them what works best about the class and what they find most challenging or missing.

A list of questions – with spaces for handwriting or sent electronically to be printed and handed in anonymously, enables you to ask for more feedback. Be careful though, too many prompts can cause students to: view the form as “work” rather than as an opportunity to provide feedback or to begin to lose steam toward the end of the survey. Here are a few sample questions to get you thinking about what you might want to ask:

  1. When do you experience clear communication in this class – in other words, when do you feel fairly certain that you know what is expected of you or what will happen next? When is this not the case?
  2. Do you feel engaged in this course – in other words, what gets you interested in what’s happening in the class? What would help you to feel more engaged?
  3. Do you think that what you are learning in this class is valuable? – Why or why not?

How you respond:  Review the responses with your class. Summarize them topically rather than reading each one. Speak first to what’s working for many students; point out how this will be continued. Speak to any changes suggested that you can make or tweak towards. Be sure to mention any requests that are not possible and explain why – reasons might include pedagogy, intended outcomes, student responsibilities, or practical restrictions. Emphasize how a learning relationship requires engagement and effort on both sides. Students should feel heard; realize that you want to create a positive and productive learning environment with them; and understand you are the one in charge of the classroom.

Here’s to an excellent second half of the semester,


Adam Rosenblatt, “Sacred Graves and Human Rights”

Adam Rosenblatt, Assistant Dean for Global Engagement and Assistant Professor in the Core Division, has a chapter in an anthology from Oxford University Press called Human Rights at the Crossroads, set to be released at the end of November. The chapter, called “Sacred Graves and Human Rights,” is about the use of forensic science to investigate mass graves after historical and contemporary genocides and atrocities—and the ethical and political dilemmas that occur when these graves are seen as sacred, and thus untouchable, by religious communities. The chapter focuses on on Jedwabne, a Polish village whose Jews were massacred during World War II—and where an attempted exhumation was brought to a halt by Orthodox rabbis and their congregants. “[T]he Polish anthropologists are guided by the idea that an accurate history is a way of restoring justice, after atrocities, to both the living and the dead. The rabbis […] believe that the dead inhabit a zone—the sacred—that is different from our own, and that to reach into that zone and disturb them is forbidden.”

Faculty to present workshop at Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, Vermont

ImageChamplain faculty – Associate Professor, Cinse Bonino and Adjunct Instructors: Kim Jordan & Lynn Rublee facilitating a professional development workshop at:  Helen Day Art Center Professional Development Workshop

In conjunction with the current exhibit on Migration, teachers are invited to participate in a day of multi-cultural arts activities. You will rotate through three different activities: Visual Patterns, Dramatic Storytelling and Creative Writing learning side by side with students from the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program’s Youth Group Diversity Rocks. This will be an interactive day where will you learn how cultural differences and similarities shape the experience of migrant peoples.

Date: Monday, Nov. 12th
Time: 9am-4pm
Title: Creative Conversation, a Multi Arts Professional Development Workshop for Teachers exploring Cultural Contexts

Jill Madden explores a non-toxic form of etching at Two Rivers Printshop workshop.

Jill Madden participated in an all day workshop at the Two Rivers Printshop in White River Junction, VT.

“Breadloaf Battell Trail” (left) was created by Jill using drypoint and photoemulsion etching at Two Rivers. This workshop focused on non-toxic forms of etching.

Through this workshop, Jill discovered that there are new plates available for printmaking for half of the cost and are slightly less complicated to use.

Jill teaches Printmaking, Intro to Painting, Intro to Drawing and Anatomy & Perspective.

See more of Jill’s work here:

Kerry Noonan’s article “Got Milk? The Food Miracles of Brigit of Kildare” was accepted into the anthology Brigit: Sun of Womanhood!

ImageMy article “Got Milk? The Food Miracles of Brigit of Kildare” was accepted into the anthology Brigit: Sun of Womanhood, edited by Michael McDermott and Patricia Monaghan, and will be published through Goddess Ink, Ltd.  in 2013.  In the article I focus on the food-related miracles performed by  St. Brigit as found in four of her medieval official Lives, the preponderance of milk, cheese, and cows in these narratives, and draw connections between the miraculous events related in the texts and the following concepts: Irish hospitality customs, the importance of dairy products and of cows in medieval Irish culture, evidence of a pre-Christian goddess retained in the Christian saint’s stories, and the particular characteristics of Celtic saints in general, and Brigit in particular.

Kerry Noonan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Core Division