P’s of Inquiry

P’s of Inquiry CETL Workshop

Open House Raffle Winners

Thanks to all faculty and staff who came to the CETL Open House. Congratulations, to Elizabeth Howard & Gaith Albadarin, you are the lucky raffle winners! Come by the CETL to collect  your prize.

If you were unable to attend the CETL Open House, please be sure to check out or calendar and new badge system to see all of the happenings this fall! Hope to see you at the CETL soon.

Addy’s Ch1 Reflections

This week’s book club meeting was great! We discussed Chapter 1 of Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms. Every semester a different CETL staff person identifies the new book for the book club and joins the group for the discussions. In the face-to-face meeting I shared that the reason I selected this book is that, a few years ago, I participated in a New Media faculty and staff seminar where we read and discussed texts from The New Media Reader. According to The New Media Reader website:

The texts are from computer scientists, artists, architects, literary writers, interface designers, cultural critics, and individuals working across disciplines. They were originally published between World War II (when digital computing, cybernetic feedback, and early notions of hypertext and the Internet first appeared) and the emergence of the World Wide Web (when these concepts entered the mainstream of public life).

And these texts illustrate the genesis of concepts, ideas, and products that today are commonplace and are still very relevant and significant. Chapter 1 of Mindstorms, “Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas,” was one of these texts. I thought that reading the whole book and discussing with colleagues would be interesting for all of us.

Papert was a student of Piaget’s in the early 1960s and some of his research and theories developed from Piaget’s constructivist theory to a constructionist theory. He was part of the team that developed the LOGO programming language at MIT and his reflections on how programming allows children to think about thinking and consequently develop intellectually in different ways fascinates me.

Some of the additional items that we have discussed and shared in our face-to-face meeting was Mamamedia.com, a children’s website developed by some of Papert’s students and that are build with the constructionist learning theory principles. (view ad for mamamedia.com below). We discussed children learning independently by watching a brief section of the TED talk (embedded below) while discussing the work of Sugata Mitra. In reference to a quote on page 37 that said:

Education will become more of a private act, and people with good ideas, different ideas, exciting ideas will no longer be faced with a dilemma where they either have to “sell” their ideas to a conservative bureaucracy or shelve them. They will be able to offer them in an open marketplace directly to consumers.

we discussed the work of Salman Khan and his Khan Academy, and  we also discussed code.org. One other quote that, in my opinion, is worth highlighting is:

The educator must be an anthropologist. The educator as an anthropologist must work to understand which cultural materials are relevant to intellectual development. Then, he or she needs to understand which trends are taking place in the culture. Meaningful intervention must take the form of working with these trends. (p.32)

If you have read this book and have any thoughts that you would like to share, please leave a comment here or email me at ameira@txwes.edu.



App of the week – WritePad

WritepadScreen Shot 2014-08-29 at 1.52.40 PM is an app for iOS and Android that allows you to take handwritten notes in your tablet, which are then recognized with a handwriting recognition software to typed letters. It also offers a spell checker and a shorthand feature that fills-in words that are often used. To download it for $4.99 for iOS click HERE. To download it for Android for $4.99 click HERE. To learn more about this app, watch the video below. If you have used this app in your life or in your classroom please let us know by commenting on this post! We would love to learn about your personal experiences and we would love to share them with other Texas Wesleyan folks!


What if a parent contacts a faculty or staff member with concerns about how his or her child is doing in a particular class or about the child’s overall academic performance or standing?

The best approach is for the parent to talk directly with the student. Parent-child communication is not always easy, and young adults are not always forthcoming as parents would like. However, parent-child conversation is the most effective and certainly the preferred method for a parent to learn about his or her child’s performance.

What if a parent tells a faculty or staff member that he or she has already talked with the student and still has questions?

In this situation, you will need the student to sign a release. Download a FERPA release form (pdf). Only after the signed release is in your possession are you free to discuss a student’s performance. Of course, in doing so, the faculty or staff member cannot release any information that identifies another student.

Does the University have a written policy about information from student records that can be shared with parents and other third parties?

Yes. See the Texas Wesleyan University FERPA Policy web page. The policy can also be found in the Undergraduate Catalog and student handbook.

What records does FERPA cover?

The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is quite broad. With limited exceptions, FERPA gives privacy protection to all student education records. Education records are defined as “[t]hose records that are directly related to a student and [are] [m]aintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.” Examples of student records entitled to FERPA privacy protection are grade reports, transcripts and disciplinary records.

Why could a parent access his or her child’s high school records, but now does not have the same access to records maintained by the University?

Under FERPA, the access rights that parents and legal guardians had in the elementary and secondary school settings are transferred to the student once a student has turned 18 or is attending any post-secondary educational institution (regardless of the student’s age and regardless of who is paying for the student’s education).

Does Texas Wesleyan University notify parents if a student is put on academic probation, or is subject to academic dismissal?

No. Information about grades and academic standing is sent directly to students. A student may complete a FERPA release form (pdf) so that a University representative may speak with a parent about their academic status.

Can a faculty member post student grades or leave graded student work outside of his or her office?

No. Faculty members should not publicly display student grades or student work (e.g. papers, tests, laboratory reports), particularly in association with student names, identification numbers or other personal identifiers.

Is posting grades, identified by SSN or Student ID numbers, on a website or course management system, such as Blackboard, allowed?

FERPA does not permit the posting of grades, using either the entire student ID number or a portion of the ID number. See this letter from the Department of Education for information on why this cannot be disclosed without written permission. Faculty members must develop a means of conveying grade information to students on an individual basis. You can use Blackboard’s “gradebook” function to give grades to individual students without actually posting the whole spreadsheet for all in the class to view and revealing the other student grades. Each student has a tool called “view grades” in the toolbar, which they use to view their “row” of the grade book.

To use this function:

  • Go into Blackboard’s Control Panel and choose “guidebook” (extreme right column, midway down)
  • Use the web-based gradebook instead of your spreadsheet or upload the spreadsheet you have (if it’s not especially complex and has all the students’ names in column A)

If a student asks a faculty member or a teaching assistant for an explanation regarding his or her performance, can a faculty member compare that students’ work with the work of other students?

No. Although faculty members or teaching assistants can, of course, explain why a particular student performed well or poorly on a given examination or other assignment, in so doing, they should not discuss or make reference to the performance of other students. Disclosing information regarding Student A to Student B jeopardizes the privacy rights of Student A.

Can faculty and staff members share with each other information from a student’s education records?

Faculty and staff members should not share this information with one another unless the person to whom the information is disclosed has a “legitimate educational interest” in the information. To have such an interest, the faculty or staff member must have a need to know the information to perform his or her job function. Mere curiosity is insufficient to satisfy this standard.

What if a faculty or staff member receives a request for student information from a licensing or accrediting organization such as a medical licensing board or a state bar authority?

Prior to providing any information in response to such a request, the faculty or staff member should ensure that the licensing or accrediting organization has provided proof of the student’s express written consent to disclose the information requested. No information should be disclosed without the student’s express written consent.

Where can I find out more information about FERPA?

FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education and more information can be found at its FERPA website.

About the CETL

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University (CETL) promotes a student-centered university by providing resources and professional growth opportunities to faculty on enhancing instructional practice, integrating technology, and promoting essential student skills.

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