How Professors Have Fun

My former dissertation advisor, Dr. Pamela Eddy, is here visiting me in Dublin this week.  She was a Fulbright to Ireland in 2009 and she helped me make valuable connections when I started applying for my own Fulbright experience here.

So far, we’ve spent a lot of time at our computers!  Although it’s her Spring Break, she’s answering emails, reviewing dissertations, and grading papers. Oh, and advising me!

She helped me prepare for the meeting I had today with DIT’s president, Prof. Brian Norton.  I’ve attached a photo of us working from my home yesterday.  She was still sitting the same seat when I Skyped her from my office on Kevin Street just now to “debrief” on the meeting.

We do stop for exercise, food, and meeting… but little else!

Starting your Fulbright Scholar Application

Fulbright logo

If you’d like to become a Fulbright Scholar, now is the time to start your application! Don’t put it off another minute….

This year’s competition opens February 1. Applications for the core scholars program are due August 1. Other deadlines are listed on the Fulbright website. This page has information for US and non-US scholars. (Information on Fulbright Student programs is available here.)

Andrew Riess <> of the Fulbright Scholar Program emailed the following note today.  He’s offering a Webinar about how to prepare your application. I took part in  one of his Webinars while I was preparing my second application (which met with success).

Dear MyFulbright Community Member,

Please join us for a Webinar on preparing to apply for your Fulbright from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Wednesday, January 16.  The competition opens February 1 and now is a good time to think about what is needed to apply.

This Webinar will include a discussion of what is involved in the process of finding an appropriate program and the materials that will be needed for application.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at

You’ll want to review the Catalogue of Awards for this year. The Catalogue of Core Scholar Awards may be what you need, although there are also specialized programs for Specialists, Distinguished Chairs, and the like.

Dedication and Perseverance Galore

Prof. Mason Andrews finally taking a minute away from her work.

Prof. Mason Andrews finally taking a minute away from her work.

Carmina Sanchez and Mason Andrews -- two amazing teachers!

Carmina Sanchez and Mason Andrews — two amazing architecture teachers!

I’m blessed to work with some incredibly talented and dedicated people at Hampton University.  Carmina Sanchez and Mason Andrews, with whom I teach architecture, are two of the hardest-working people I have ever known (and that, my friends, is really saying something!).

Carmina, Mason, and I are sincerely dedicated to the mission of our Historically Black College/University (HBCU).  We  work long hours to help our students master the craft of architecture.

And students in our program have achieved many amazing feats.  Much of their success is a result of professors like Mason and Carmina believing in them, working overtime again and again, introducing new ideas and new challenges, and opening doors for them along the way.

My colleagues’ work usually goes under-recognized, although Carmina has won a national-level teaching award from ACSA as well as one (that I nominated her for) from Hampton University.  She has also been a national officer of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and an international officer of the Association for Computer Aided Design (ACADIA). Carmina runs our thesis program and oversees our digital resources.  She’s at school all hours of the night and day.

Mason tends to work non-stop, too.  Prior to joining HU, she authored several books (one on Aldo Rossi). She also headed an architecture firm in NYC for many years before returning to her hometown in Norfolk. She felt the tug of family:  Her dad, after whom she is named, was once the mayor of Norfolk.  He led the effort to found the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS).  I believe he also delivered the first in-vitro baby in the USA and helped fund the lawsuit that ended racial segregation in Norfolk Public Schools.  He was a truly remarkable man and passed many exceptional qualities on to his daughter.

Carmina also had exceptional parents who were dedicated to helping others.  Mason and Carmina both learned from their parents how to serve others.  Not a day goes by that they don’t.

I first met Mason through the Marilyn and Ray Gindroz Foundation.  I had asked the Gindrozes to support our department’s travel program and they enthusiastically agreed — providing time and money and even re-writing their foundation’s bylaws to include HU.  Mason was the president of their board.  (To this day, the three of them travel with our students in the summer as part of the study abroad program that each HU student must complete in order to earn a degree in architecture.)

The year I met Mason, I asked her to consider teaching with us… although I never dreamed she’d accept.

But she did!

And she’s brought so many opportunities to our students.  She’s connected us to a number of prestigious scholarships and internship opportunities.  She sees possibilities others don’t and makes possibilities where none seem to exist. She typically teaches 1-2 more courses each semester than required, just because she wants students to have opportunities to learn a comprehensive range of subjects.

This usually includes writing for architects and a travel-prep class.  One year, it also included courses on construction and solar technologies.

In 2009, she took the lead in getting HU teamed up with Old Dominion University so we could enter the 2011 Solar Decathlon.  She co-led the team that constructed a net-zero house.  The group hauled their house to Washington DC and reassembled in a handful of days so it could compete (in 10 areas, while being toured by thousands of people every day, for 10 days).

Hundreds of universities all around the world apply for the opportunity, but only 20 are accepted each go around.  Our team garnered 14th place overall in its first attempt — which is truly remarkable given the level of resources other universities have.

The Decathlon happens every two years, and HU is competing again in 2013 under the direction of professor David Peronnet who was also instrumental in our 2011 success.

I am honored to work with Carmina, Mason, and David.

And, Dave and I are fortunate to count Mason among our dearest friends.  Dave and I can drop by the home of Mason, Bill (her husband), and Alston (their son) any time and find open arms, stimulating conversation, and often a creative meal to boot!

I’ve included photos from the pre-Christmas, drop-by dinner that Dave and I enjoyed with Mason.

Mason's home on Norfolk's gorgeous Mobray Arch.  (In 1998, I lived in an apartment in the yellow house to the left of the tutor house.)

Mason’s home on Norfolk’s gorgeous Mobray Arch. (In 1998, I lived in an apartment in the yellow house to the left of the tutor house. Mason, Bill, and Alston moved in just as we were moving out, and I didn’t get to know them until years later.)

Amazing Teachers

Shannon Chance, Ron Daniel, and Kim McGrath in Dublin last week.

Shannon Chance, Ron Daniel, and Kim McGrath in Dublin last week.

Amazing teachers transform lives. That’s what they did for me at least!

Last week, one of the very best teachers I’ve had in my life–Ron Daniel–visited Dublin with his colleagues from Webster University. Ron is the Director of Academics at Webster’s Geneva campus.

While they were here, we got together twice to reminisce and talk about higher ed.

I didn’t post about this topic right away, because some things are difficult to express into words. This morning, I’m allowing myself to just cover the tip of the iceberg of what I’d like to say….

The best teachers I’ve experienced in life actually just put a good framework in place in for me. Then, they stepped back and let me explore the issues.

The best learning experiences I’ve had in life have happened under the astute guidance of Ron as well as:

  • Wilma Brown (my fifth grade teacher)
  • Liz Lindon and Joyce Martin (my 4-H leaders)
  • Dave Dugas, Eugene Egger, and Bob Dyck (some easy going Virginia Tech professors)
  • Bridget Arvold (my high school geometry teacher)
  • the faculty of higher ed at the College of William and Mary

I am particularly indebted to Ron Daniel (my second year architecture professor and the person who gave me my first architecture teaching job) and Wilma Brown (my fifth grade teacher who gave me my first official teaching assistant role). These two used a Montessori / Bauhaus sort of approach.

They put relevant materials in front of me and let me do my thing.

Wind me up and I’m like the Energizer bunny!

Thankfully, Bridget Arvold was there at precisely the right moment in time as well. In ninth grade, I was struggling through geometry because I had initially been assigned a very poor teacher. Thankfully, I met Bridget and had the sense to change instructors. She made geometry seem fun and logical. Without her, I don’t think I’d have has a solid foundation for becoming an architect.

Teachers like these make learning fun. They gave me the challenge and sense of support needed for me to start learning to explore this big, wonderful world. I thank my lucky stars to have known them.

Fellowships as Opportunities for Transforming Education

If you’d like to know a bit about the presentations I’m making here in Dublin, you can view the Prezi I used for the DIT Teaching Fellowships awards ceremony.

One of the award winners, the School of Business’ Joe Dennehey, was so enthusiastic about the presentation and wanted to see it again that I decided to open it for public access.

I’ve included an outline (below the picture) of what I said at that event.  If you borrow any of the images, ideas, or words for your future work, please cite the source:

CHANCE, S. M. (2012). Transformational Education at the DIT: Potentials of Your 2012-13 Teaching Fellowship. Keynote lecture for the kickoff of Teaching Fellowships hosted by the Learning, Teaching and Technology Center (LTTC) on 1 November 2012 at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland. 

Click here to see the slides for the 2012 DIT Teaching Fellowship awards ceremony.

Transformational Education at the DIT
A twenty-minute keynote presentation
by Shannon Chance
for the kickoff event of the
2012-13 Teaching Fellowship Awards
hosted by DIT’s
Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre
Thank you, Jen. Welcome and congratulations to the Teaching Fellowship award winners. 
We are witnessing something extraordinary happening at DIT. This extraordinary thing is something that helps shape you and that you help shape.
It is a culture of learning from each other.
It is a culture of continually improving over time.
It is a culture that is about learning and teaching well.
It became evident to me in March 2011, and it forms the basis of my research today.  What I am learning is of great interest back in the States and across Europe as well.
Today I’d like to share ideas about 
  • Scholarships as opportunities 
  • Path to Fulbright
  • An outsider’s view 
  • Global implications
  • Support available 
  • Potential of learning groups
  • Be the change you wish to see
Fellowships and scholarships like yours (LTTC) and mine (Fulbright) offer unique opportunities to learn, grow, and change things for the better.
I encourage you to make the most of the opportunity that is before you and then to consider extending your reach by applying for a Fulbright scholarship to teach and/or conduct research in the US.[Fulbright page]
This year, there are 35 Irish Fulbrighters going to the US, and 17 Americans coming here to Ireland. They include students, teachers, and professionals in various fields.
Let me step back a moment and tell you about how I came to find something extraordinary happening. Then, I’ll tell you what I think is special here. I hope that this will help encourage you to make the most of your teaching fellowships, and for those of you not winning an award today, to make the most of your efforts at the DIT to build upon and enhance this important movement.
PATH TO FULBRIGHT [path sequence]
I’m an architectural educator who visited Ireland on a vacation in 2003.  My husband and I went and poked around the School of Architecture at UCD, and realized that with my current credentials—a BArch and MArch—I was qualified to teach architecture in Ireland.
I made it a central goal of my career to return to Ireland to teach and conduct research for at least a year.
When I returned home and looked up the Fulbright program, I realized that having a PhD would increase my chances of earning a Fulbright. I wanted to learn better research methods, anyway.  I firmly believe that the architecture profession has left itself behind the ball by not developing a PhD sooner. We’ve failed to develop a shared research agenda or refine our research techniques (beyond the case study). As a result, we kept building the same mistakes (like unsuccessful government-subsidized high-rise housing, known as “the projects”) over and over again.
PhD programs in architecture are very rare in the States, so I found a great one in a nearby School of Education. The program is somewhat similar to your LTTC offerings, although it focuses on Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership.
I took the route that focuses on educational research, and went about studying change theory, strategic thinking and planning, and the way students who are learning to design understand ‘KNOWLEDGE’ and their role in creating knowledge (i.e., how their epistemologies change over time).
I don’t know how hard your Fellowship was to obtain, but my first application to Fulbright was rejected at the US level because I hadn’t established strong enough ties to DIT. Fulbright has a three-phase selection process and I got shot down at the beginning of the first stage.
To address this problem, my husband, Dave, and I headed over here during spring break 2011 to find connections and develop relationships at the DIT.
I called the US Fulbright Office a few weeks before I came over and the Program Officer for Ireland suggested I look into the highly tailored calls for proposals, because the “all disciplines” grants have so many applicants.  I wasn’t certain if I fit the position DIT lists for Engineering Education Research, and my goal in coming over was to find where I best fit.  When I got here, I met with people in the LTTC and various Colleges at DIT.
I came back again during spring break 2012 to get the ground work in place–even though I wasn’t certain I’d be awarded the grant for this year.  I was determined to keep trying until it worked out. At the end of this past March I got notification I’d been selected for this year.  I packed my bags, and have been here for two months now.
You can learn about my adventures here on my blog,  [blog page]
  • Great innovation and research (regarding outcomes) in DIT’s Electrical Engineering and Physics programs [Robo Sumo]
  • Positive outcomes accruing from the LTTC [LTTC logos]
    • The PGCert requirement is extending the benefits that accruing for students
      • shared vocabulary
      • active learning communities
      • evidence of formative feedback, engagement, and group learning
    • Many did PGCert voluntarily and they’re making a visible different in the quality of education students receive here [zoom in on collage]
      • Many continued on, to doctoral level studies
      • High quality educational research emerging
  • I’m glad to see you here, showing interest in extending these proven innovations into more programs
On my March 2011 visit, I discovered:
·      Research going on here in area of my interest
·      Evidence that the changes NSF wants are happening here in engineering and physics
·      Incredibly warm and enthusiastic scholars all across the institute who are working hard to get things done and who have a sense of optimism about the future
I also discovered something very special—the requirement for all incoming faculty members to earn a qualification in learning and teaching.  Your staff has to learn to teach!  That’s remarkable. 
And I see clear evidence that it’s making a positive difference.  People are using innovative methods. They are talking about good teaching practice over coffee every day (in some cases).
They share a common vocabulary and a common set of concerns about teaching – such as how to provide students with the most helpful feedback in ways that work where the staff have such heavy teaching loads (similar to my home institution). The institution has a similar mission and an ongoing conversation about good teaching. And, engineers and architects are housed in the same College, so I can do everything I love while I’m here!
  • NSF [existing mandate sequence]
    • Mandate
    • What NSF wants 
  • JEE article fortcoming [JEE mag and logo]
  • At HU — my Dean and Associate Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology at HU [HU title] 
    • want to use DIT as a precedent for improving our program and building a common philosophy
    • across all our programs (engineering, architecture, and aviation) [Duffy charts > sequence]
  • Eternal reviewer at various levels have cited PBL courses and LTTC program outcomes as unique and positive. I came in with this sort of perspective since I serve on external review boards for the National Architectural Accrediting Board in the USA. [Barrie chart > zoom in]
  • What we learn from studying successful examples at DIT can help improve the way engineering, science, and architecture are taught far and wide. [zoom again]
This is of interest because, we can use what Gavin and his colleagues are doing at DIT to help improve science, engineering, and architecture education everywhere.
The National Science Foundation says there’s a problem with the way engineering has been taught for the past 50 or so years. Programs in the US are starting to change …but many aren’t changing fast enough.
DIT is among those using innovative pedagogies—to help students develop both disciplinary knowledge and personal skills like collaboration—in order to create flexible learners who can address address pressing issues—using higher order thinking skills.  They have to be able to create a bright new tomorrow, not just remember, understand, and apply what people already know how to do.
The NSF says “engineering education must change in light of changing workforce and demographic needs.” It’s leadership board recommends hands-on activities, collaborative work, real-life applications that have social relevance, and working at various scales.  The Electrical Engineering program at DIT is doing all this in the Project-Based Learning modules embedded across the four-year curriculum.
These PBL modules are helping students reach what the NSF wants to see in the US: effective communication, critical thinking, creativity, self-awareness, ethics, and skills for “self-directed life long learning.”
I’ve presented ideas I got at the DIT to the faculty at my university, to national conferences of architecture professors, and at education conferences in the US and Greece.
Right now, we’re researching how they’ve achieved this for the Journal of Engineering Education.  The top journal in the world in the field of Engineering Education is interested in publishing our study about how DIT’s electrical engineering staff managed to change the way they teach by using the formal peer learning groups that Gavin organized during his Teaching Fellowship.
  • Existing culture — balancing challenge and support imp. for students & staff [Computer Science lecturer; Duffy papers]
    • A community of people with experience doing this
      • from in and outside of the College
      • who want to help you do it 
    • Gavin’s paper on restructuring the EE program
    • Coffee time and the art of chat
    • Good teaching is an overarching value  [balancing chart]
      • our schools are somewhat similar
      • traditionally teaching-focused, non doctoral-level, non-research funded
      • you’re in the classroom a lot, but you also get to decide how you’ll spend your research time
  • LTTC programmes [logos, Gavin and Sima]
    • Some availability of funding for taking LTTC modules
    • Some availability of timetable adjustments for taking LTTC modules
  • LTTC Teaching awards [zoom to Sima]
    • Ability to earn public recognition for your work through Teaching Awards
    • Sima won
  • Project Grants [webpage]
    • Gavin and I got one this year for €2400 to fund transcribing
  • Teaching Fellowships [webpage]
    • Can have far reaching effects
    • Gavin’s case highlights two opportunities
      • Ability to form staff learning groups
      • A lot of curious, motivated colleagues who share a sense of purpose and optimism
    • I’m speaking at 2012-13 kickoff on Thursday
  • Ability to align activities with what the institution seems to value — this is where there’s lot of opportunity 
  • College Heads of Learning Development [Brian and Mike]
    • Brian Bowe really knows educational research and how to apply it [zoom to Brian]
    • has the active support of his Dean
  • Knowledgeable and supportive leaders [zoom to Mike at SEFI]
    • Mike Murphy is recognized for excellence in engineering education
    • genuinely interested in learning about
  • Fulbrighters who here each year to contribute to the conversation [zoom to Colleen, Pam, SMC]
  • A comprehensive library [Bolton Street library]
    • on Bolton Street
    • incredibly helpful and knowledgeable librarians
  • Internet resources [zoom to ARROW logo]
    • good access to databases
    • DIT ARROW database
  • Many outlets for sharing [SEFI conference pictures]
    • presentations 
    • publications [zoom]
    • Availability of travel funding to network and attend conferences
  • LTTC and LIN [logos]
    • workshops / webinars
    • experts in Teaching and Learning available by phone and in person)
I am getting to work everyday with a lecturer who earned one of these Teaching Fellowships in 2009. As part of his Fellowship, he organized a peer learning group.  They met formally through the year to discuss how to implement Hands-On, Group-Based learning in electrical engineering – in addition to their regular informal meetings over coffee to discuss issues they each brought to the table.
During his Fellowship year, Gavin also wrote two position papers to clarify what he thought needed to be done to improve DIT’s Electrical Engineering program.  So, he invariably had new ideas to offer up for discussion.
  • JEE interest in how this was achieved at DIT
  • The sessions included Brian Bowe who brought in
    • research
    • experience with implementing this in Physics
    • understanding of the way the institution works
  • Informal sessions are ongoing… they happen at coffee on a daily basis
  • Easy to set up and fun for participants
  • Highly motivational — participants cite increase confidence
  • They appreciate having a sounding board and knowing they’re not alone
  • Having a group keeps the momentum going, especially where there’s a champion
  • The book Learning by Design by Noel Fitzpatrick and Jen Harvey [book cover]
    • explains how learning groups have made a difference across the ITs
    • DIT formed the template
And his colleagues were keen on hearing his thoughts.  Several of them had, like Gavin, opted to take the Post-Graduate programs in Teaching and Learning even before these became mandatory.
Many of those “volunteers” have gone on to study at the doctoral level—thus bringing a more informed level of discourse to the DIT.
Today, Gavin is working on a dissertation. He and I put in an application for support on his project and received a grant for this year to help fund transcription of the interviews we’re doing.
His work caught the attention of the Dean while we were at the SEFI conference, and his line managers asked him to put together a seminar for the while College to learn about how to implement Student-Centered teaching into more programs.
He and I discuss this everyday, and often include his teaching colleagues in our learning process.
I’ll be presenting these ideas to the School of Architecture next week, at a symposium called “Schools of Thought” that’s being organized by architecture students. I will encourage teachers in that school to use more Student-Centered approaches.
The book Learning by Design by Noel Fitzpatrick and Jen Harvey [book cover]
  • explains how learning groups have made a difference across the ITs
  • DIT formed the template
Evidence of successful models being used at CEBE
  • Fullan [chart]
  • Prochaska and DiClemente [chart]
  • Behavior change [chart]
As you can see, one little Teaching Fellowship can have a very, very long reach. I encourage you to make the most of your Fellowship… the LTTC knows how to pick ‘em and I feel certain that you’re up to the challenge!

Presidential Acclaim

USDA Photo by Bob Nichols of Dr. William R. Harvey, President of Hampton University.

My university president made news today in an article in the Huffington Post.

Earlier today I received a letter from him, congratulating me for the article in Planning for Higher Education.  I realize that it’s fairly standard text, but it’s nice to be remembered… particularly after a long day of manuscript writing!

The paper I’m writing now won’t be published until 2014!?!  That’s par for the course in the land of academe.

What’s a MOOC? (And can it help us save humanity?)

A diagram from Dave Cormier’s video.

I’ve been scratching my head, wondering “what’s a MOOC?”

Someone at SCUP sent me a helpful link to a succinct four-minute video by Dave Cormier that describes MOOCs and explains that the acronym stands for “Massive Open On-line Course.”  I also found a helpful blog posted by Lou Mcgill titled  What is a mooc? Massive Online Open Course and the learner perspective.

SCUP is using a MOOC to facilitate communication among its members.  I’ve been visiting SCUP’s MOOC for weeks now but I haven’t been able to “see the forest for the trees.”  I haven’t understood what’s going on all around me.  I find my way to some places that seem like classrooms and other places where discussion is going on, but I don’t yet understand how to navigate effectively.

Thanks to Dave and Lou I can finally stop scratching my head!  And, once I understand how the platform works, I can start using it to generate knowledge about planning and sustainability — rather that just about how to use MOOCs and the internet more effectively.

In any case, I believe that this on-line communication platform (i.e., SCUP’s MOOC) is the reason that my article got so many downloads so quickly after it went “live” on the internet.  The splash page for the article was viewed 644 times between November 9 and November 12.

To be honest, up until now I didn’t actually think people read the academic articles I’d published.  But now that I think about it, several people did contact me regarding an article I published with SCUP in 2010 titled Strategic by Design: Iterative Approaches to Educational Planning.  So perhaps SCUP’s audience reads and communicates more about its publications than is the case with many other organizations!

MOOCs provide a platform for learning that can help communities develop new knowledge quickly.  SCUP’s is aimed toward generating knowledge about how universities run and how they can improve their approaches over time.

Perhaps humanity will develop viable paths to achieving sustainability by using tools like MOOCs to share and build knowledge.  That’s part of the focus of my article just published by SCUP and something I think society MUST focus on if we are to persist on this planet.

But I’m quite interested in knowing more about how people work together to generate new knowledge.  The research project I’m conducting right now with Gavin Duffy and Brian Bowe (as part of my Fulbright) investigates how a group of teachers here at the DIT (i.e., a learning community) has been able to implement changes in the way DIT teaches Electrical Engineering.  These are topics I learned a lot about in the Ph.D. program I completed at The College of William and Mary on educational policy, planning, and leadership.

And interestingly, so many of the women I’ve bumped into recently–Esther, Joan, Máirtín’s wife, and myself–have been studying topics of leadership and change management.  Now that I’ve joined SCUP’s MOOC, I have found a whole new community discussing change, strategy, and the university’s role in addressing social and environmental issues. I hope we can elicit the types of sweeping change that this world needs, and do it fast enough to save ourselves.

Fulbrighters Sharing Ideas

I just received great news about my article from one of the editors of Planning for Higher Education.  Terry Calhoun left me this comment:  “Shannon, as of this morning, we have 345 article/summary downloads. So, people are reading, even if not yet commenting.”

I have to say: that’s a truly amazing number of downloads.  It’s a testament to the quality of the organization (the Society of College and University Planners) and its new platform for sharing ideas.

Erin Eife and I discussed the ins and outs of applying to grad schools in between programmed sessions at the Fulbright Orientation.

On another note, Fulbright Ireland just posted a piece on taking the GRE in Dublin that was written by Erin Eife who is a recent college graduate who is conducting research on recidivism among females who have been jailed.

Erin and I sat next to each other at the Fulbright Orientation in September.  We got to talking about grad school and I answered some of her questions about degree paths and about selecting and applying to grad schools.
Erin has since written to thank me for the advice and let me know that she’s following through!  I love getting this type of feedback!  It’s not often that you hear you’ve made an important difference simply by sharing your experiences.
 Erin has got big dreams and I have every confidence that she’ll succeed with the applications she’s submitting this fall.

From Theory to Practice

The class I taught this past summer at The College of William and Mary is being featured by the university’s public relations department for helping students move ideas into action and spurring environmental change.  Check it out at:

One of our many field trips in the summer “Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability” class at William and Mary.  This one, to the campus herb gardens, was coordinated by student Justine Okerson and led by W&M’s current Sustainability Fellow, Patrick Foley.  The cafeterias at W&M get all the herbs they use from these gardens.