2011 Annual Institute: Plenary and Concurrent Sessions

Call for Proposals

The institute program will include a series of plenary sessions that introduce general issues pertaining to “Reacting to the Past” (RTTP).  We also invite individual faculty and teams to propose topics for concurrent sessions.  The purpose of these sessions is to provide opportunities for smaller groups to explore particular matters in greater detail.    

Concurrent sessions will be roughly 85 minutes in length and will likely have an audience ranging from 25 to 40 participants.  There is no set format for these sessions:  they might consist of a hands-on workshop, video presentation, or discussion panel.  We encourage collaborative proposals among faculty from multiple institutions. .

The following is an illustrative list of ideas that have surfaced over the past few months, although we welcome topics outside of those included here:    

  • Active-Learning across the Disciplines:  Where does the RTTP pedagogy fit in the broader spectrum of active-learning approaches currently employed in the higher education arena, such as role-playing, and problem-based learning?
  • Motivating (or Coping with) Under-prepared or Unmotivated Students:  All colleges classes suffer from ill-prepared and unmotivated students, but in “Reacting to the Past”—where student learning depends on the participation of nearly all students—the problem of "slackers" and weak students presents a greater challenge.  What needs to be done to make RTTP work better in settings with large numbers of unmotivated students?  In classes with nontraditional students?
  • Employing the RTTP Pedagogy in Diverse Settings:  How can the games be adapted for very large (or small) classes?  For non-traditional students?  For online classes?
  • The "Big Pnyx": Fostering Student Communities through “Reacting”: Most students attest that “Reacting to the Past” courses forge powerful learning communities, and that the relationships they forge through the games often extend far beyond the classroom walls.  How might one build on this phenomenon to promote larger student communities within a campus?  For example, do you have experience bringing multiple RTTP classes together for joint game sessions, lecture series, or other academic programs? 
  • Game Management: Faculty experienced with RTTP know that the games do not teach themselves. Instructors have to nudge and prod and inspire and criticize students: that is, RTTP faculty must teach. Yet mastering the complexity of RTTP game can be a challenge for new instructors. While each game includes a comprehensive instructor's manual that includes a schedule of class activities and introduces issues that may emerge during the course of the game, unanticipated events can and do occur. What are the common challenges or pitfalls that new instructors should look out for? For example, are there particularly effective strategies to overcome issues related to poor student engagement or class participation? On the other end of the spectrum, how might instructors handle student ingenuity, particularly when overzealous students attempt to do something that might derail the game or hamper other students’ learning experience?
  • Assessment:  Have you devised assessment tools that might be useful to others?  Do you have experience with tools that evaluate general education skills (critical thinking, civic engagement, writing, speaking, foreign languages, global awareness, empathy and diversity?)  Tools that address "content mastery" issues?   Do you have results that might be interesting or useful to others? 
  • Dissemination: How can faculty build a larger RTTP network on their campus?  Given that the pedagogical experience is so difficult to "envision," have you developed effective materials to share with others such as a video (or video-making strategy)? Have you found any strategies particularly effective in promoting dissemination within your institution or among colleagues in your field?
  • Game Design and Review:  How does one go about designing a game?  Are there specific strategies or hints that you would offer to new game developers?  What are the most effective ways to disseminate your work both before and after publication? 
  • Broad Questions concerning the future of “Reacting to the Past” and/or undergraduate teaching and learning more generally.

Proposals should be emailed to reacting@barnard.edu no later than April 15, 2011. Applicants will be notified of the status of their proposal(s) by April 31, 2011. Submissions should include the following:

  • Session Title and Format
  • Contact Information for the proposers/facilitators
  • Brief description for institute program (maximum 100 words)
  • Abstract describing the session activities, major issues/questions to be addressed, and relevance to the suggested themes (maximum 300 words)
  • Anticipated audiovisual needs