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Upcoming CTL Events


Save the date for this year’s symposium: January 6, 2015. This year’s symposium features two plenary sessions stueckle_sky_center_3facilitated by Joan Middendorf – co-author of Decoding the Disciplines – and a poster session showcasing Boise State’s bronco-stadiumfinest faculty, staff and contributors focused on teaching and learning, all of which will take place in the exclusive Steukle Sky Center (morning refreshments and lunch provided). What more could you ask for? RSVP for the Symposium here!

Symposium Schedule

8:30am – 9:00am: Morning Refreshments and Sign In

9:00Am – 11:00am: Plenary Session 1, Decoding the Disciplines: Uncovering Critical Thinking

  • Decoding the Disciplines (Middendorf and Pace, 2004) is rooted in the realization many mental moves of a discipline are so automatic to an expert that they are invisible and, therefore, not explicitly taught to students. It begins by identifying the bottlenecks to learning, places where large numbers of students get stuck in a course. By “decoding” the tacit knowledge of experts the disciplinary assumptions and mental actions, often referred to as “critical thinking,” are made available to students. Instructors will view videotapes of and conduct Decoding interviews. Watch a video of Joan Middendorf describing Decoding the Disciplines. 

11:00am – 12:30pm: Great Ideas Poster Session

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm – 3:00pm: Plenary Session 2, Decoding the Disciplines: Helping Students Engage in Critical Thinking

  • A shift is taking place in higher education so that teaching is approached not only from content and from teaching methods, but also from the mental operations that are crucial to functioning in a discipline. Besides providing a framework for analyzing the reasons for students’ “stuckness”, Decoding the Disciplines employs a systematic scaffolding to lead students through the bottlenecks. Students operating within a decoded class are not only more likely to learn to get past specific bottlenecks, but also gain an understanding of the underlying ways of operating in the discipline. Such an understanding allows students to generalize what they have learned and use their new understanding of the discipline to avoid other potential obstacles. Instructors will use metaphors to uncover tacit knowledge and desired mental operations and use the decoded mental operations to provide practice, motivation, and assessments so that students can master the bottlenecks.