Halasek, Jones suggest challenging assumptions of student roles in classroom

What happens when instructors challenge their assumptions of place and role in a classroom? Institute for Teaching and Learning Director and Professor of English Kay Halasek and Professor of Music and Associate Director of Bands Scott A. Jones suggested the results may be transformational learning during a joint Arts and Humanities Inaugural Lecture Series Thursday, Dec. 2

Halasek considered “Metaphors We Teach By: Reflections on Pedagogy in the Age of Big Data,” while Jones shared his implementation of an alternative model for ensemble music making via “Trading Efficiency for Outcomes: Large Ensemble Music Making without a Conductor.”

Halasek examined two metaphors used when considering big data and arising from the disciplines of business and economics – the nudge and choice architecture. Both metaphors suggest that instructors influence student learning based on the reinforcements and choices presented to them in a given context or classroom. In addition to presenting and unpacking the metaphors, Halasek contested their efficacy in light of the work of scholars in culturally-relevant, culturally-sustaining, and culturally-revitalizing pedagogies (Ladson-Billings, Paris, San Pedro)

Through framing content, assessments and activities, teachers present choices that positively (or negatively) affect student behavior and learning. Halasek asked those attending to consider the implications of the metaphors that inform their teaching and what choices they present to students related to the course organization, disciplinary content and assignments, for example, and what might happen if students became the choice architects for a class based on what they identify as their learning needs and goals for learning.

Jones presented an approach to music making within a large ensemble (60+ musicians) implemented with the Ohio State Symphonic Band – the “conductorless” ensemble. In this case, the student musicians rehearse and perform without a conductor, collectively embracing the multifaceted tasks and roles of the conductor. For Jones, who is both teacher of record and conductor of Symphonic Band, such an approach involves relinquishing many of the creative and musical decisions to the musicians, and entrusting the students with the artistic outcomes.

During the lecture, Jones shared video of Symphonic Band rehearsing without a conductor, to demonstrate what the process of collaborative music making both looks and sounds like. Those in attendance at the lecture were thereby able to “drop in” to the rehearsal room and observe the students fully living into the experience. He also included video of students reflecting on their experiences rehearsing and performing without a conductor.

Both Halasek and Jones reflected on the value arising from true collaborations across disciplines to explore common interests about teaching and learning

“Amidst the busy-ness of our professional lives, making time to attend public ‘sharings across campus needs to be a priority. I always leave such experiences transformed in ways that positively impact my own teaching, research and learning,” Scott said.

Inaugural lectures celebrate Arts and Humanities faculty who have been promoted to the rank of professor.