Sequence of Assigned Activities

Sequence of Assigned Course Activities:

Important!  This course is to introduce you to some very unconventional ideas about learning, personal development and leadership.  You are not expected to master or completely understand these ideas after this introductory course.  The point is to help you to stimulate your curiosity so that you can BEGIN TO THINK ABOUT AND DISCUSS these important, and innovative, ideas about transformative learning, and to begin to think about how they might apply to you, during and beyond your WISR studies. Also, as you progress through your studies at WISR we will help you to explore ways that transformative learning methods can be important to others, especially as part of  your creative efforts in careers in professional and community leadership. If you get frustrated with the amount of reading for this course, with the unusual content of the readings, or have difficulty seeing its relevance, please reach out to faculty for discussion and support.  You are not being tested on this–we are hoping to help you feel relaxed and enthusiastic in imaginatively exploring this material–in reflecting on its possible relevance to you, and in discussing it with others at WISR. This is the beginning of what will hopefully be an exciting and transformative process–for you and for all of us at WISR who collaborate with you!

You can work on these assigned course activities at your own pace, but it is recommended that most students will take about 6 – 8 weeks to do all of these activities. If you wish, you may do this course concurrently with another course.  This course has been developed so you can get the most out of your WISR experience–and by not rushing through this “just to get through it” you are likely to better understand how to use your time to take advantage of the learning methods that many WISR faculty have spent countless hours developing over the past four decades! 

1) Explore WISR’s website (www.wisr.edu) and familiarize yourself with what’s there.  It is recommended especially that you look at the following sections:

2) We strongly recommend that you write down several questions or insights that occur to you when reading through our website, and discuss your questions and insights with your faculty advisor.  You are also encouraged to bring these up for discussion in WISR seminars and discussion forums.  All students enrolling February 2015, or later, are expected to participate in two seminars (onsite or by phone) each month.  In addition, if you wish, you may post your ideas and questions on the “Discussion” page ( http://learningthewisrway.wisrville.org/discussion/ )* of this course website–this is another way you can have an opporunity to engage in dialogue with others at WISR.

3) It is strongly recommended that you read through the sections on students and alumni on the website, in order to identify several, or even as many as half a dozen, WISR learners with whom you might like to talk. Then, let the faculty member you are working with on this course know, and she or he will try to help you contact at least three of them, or three other students or alumni who might be “similarly” interesting to you, so you can interview them. Faculty are always eager to help students connect with other students and with alumni.

Take 15 minutes or so to discuss (do a phone or face to face “interview”) with each, regarding the insights and questions you might have, and get their ideas based on their experiences.  

For Master’s and Doctoral students, optional for Bachelor’s students: write a one page report on what you learned in doing the interviews–both about “Learning the WISR way” and about conducting interviews.

4) Read the article that long-time WISR faculty members, Cynthia Lawrence and John Bilorusky, wrote for a book published in 20   on Learning the WISR Way in the article,  “Multicultural, Community-Based Knowledge-Building: Lessons from a tiny institution where students and faculty sometimes find magic in the challenge and support of collaborative inquiry.” by John A. Bilorusky, Ph.D. and Cynthia Lawrence, Ph.D. in Community and the World: Participating in Social Change.  Torry D. Dickinson, ed.  New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2003, pp. 63-82 [this article is only to be shared with members of the WISR learning community, by special arrangement with the publisher–so this article cannot be circulated outside WISR, except among serious prospective students, current and former WISR learners].  Also, read the article: Learning the WISR Way:  The Role of Students and Faculty in Personalizing Education.”  You are encouraged to reflect on what you’ve read in these articles, and to write down informal notes on one or two interesting questions that occur to you, and  on one or two new or interesting ideas or insights.  To promote discussion with others, consider posting these questions and ideas on the Discussion page. At the very least, share these questions and ideas with your faculty advisor(s) and with others in seminars and discussion forums at WISR.

5) Next, we believe that it will be eye-opening for you to read a number of the end of program evaluations that WISR learners have written over the years–reflecting on their experiences at WISR.  The reflections are categorized according to Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees (other than the MFT program), the MFT program, and Doctoral Degrees (previously PhD, now EdD).  These reflections are only a few pages long (each), and we have removed the students’ names (although when writing these evaluations, students knew that they might be shared with others within WISR).  They’re quite interesting and if you read through 15 or 20 at least, you may be struck with how WISR students have very different interests and experiences, and yet you may also notice some themes in what they say.

You can access these evaluations through a Google Drive that is part of WISR’s Google Apps for Education account.  This will be an opportunity for some of you to get an introduction to using Google Drive, and if you have any difficulty or questions, let your faculty advisor know so they can help you.  First, go to google.com Then, sign in to the e-mail account with the following user name:  coursematerials@wisr.edu  and use the password obtained from the course instructor.  Then, in the upper right corner click on the square grid made of 9 smaller squares, then choose (click on) “Google Drive.”  (If you don’t yet have Google Drive on your computer, follow the instructions on how to download–it should take less than 2 minutes).  Once in Google Drive, you will see a folder, “coursematerials“–click on that, and within that click on “End of Program Student Evaluations.”  If you have any difficulties accessing these evaluations, give your faculty advisor a call or send her or him an e-mail!

6) Please read the section on the meta-competencies that we see as key learning goals and themes at WISR–these are things are ways in which we hope that ALL WISR students, and all WISR faculty, as well–all WISR learners–will further grow and develop as a result of their participation in the WISR learning community.  As you read through these meta-competencies, take some notes for yourself:  1) about the areas in which you feel you are already the strongest, 2) about the areas that are likely to be the most challenging for you, or in which you may need the most improvement, 3) about any areas that you aren’t so sure what they are about or why they might be important.  Keep these notes in mind as you do the major projects and papers for this course–your autobiographical statement, your learning plan, and your personal inventory.  Be sure to discuss your notes or thoughts with your faculty advisor(s)–we are eager to support you in getting the most out of your WISR studies, and it helps us a lot to hear more from you, about yourself and how you see yourself.

7) Required of Doctoral Students, and Optional for Others:  Read the paper by WISR faculty member and co-founder, John Bilorusky, a paper he wrote, with several colleagues, just as he and three others were about to start WISR in 1975–on “Improvisational Competency-Based Learning.”  (This paper was presented at the annual conference of the American Association for Higher Education.) While reading this article, write down one or two ideas that are new to you from reading this article and/or write down one or two questions or criticisms you have of the points in the article. Then, further considering this article, think and write about your ideas and questions–are there any implications for your future (doctoral) studies?  You should write a brief essay about your thoughts and the possible implications–from the perspective of yourself as someone who is going to be studying a) how to educate others, b) how to create new knowledge, share that knowledge with others, and put it to use, and c) how to be a creative leader in your profession and the larger community.

8) Discuss with your faculty advisor the importance of the Student Self-Assessment Form that each student fills out whenever they complete a course.  Go through the form with your faculty advisor and make sure that you understand it well. Whenever a WISR student completes a course, they describe and self-assess what they have done and learned in that course. The information and reflections written by the student on this form provide faculty with additional evidence in assessing the student’s learning and accomplishments during the course. This form  helps students to summarize what they have done in the course/project they’ve just completed AND to self-evaluate their learning processes and their learning outcomes and accomplishments in the course.  Beginning Feburary 2015, WISR will provide students with syllabi for each course/project they plan to pursue, and each syllabus will have some required readings and assignments, but most of the work for each course will still be personally designed by each student with guidance and approval from WISR faculty, based on relating the student’s interests and purposes to the particular course topic and learning objectives.  As you progress at WISR, continue to let us know if you have any questions about how to use these forms to aid and self-assess your learning.

9)  Students should go to the webpage for this course on Writing Strategies, Using the Internet and Other Resources –in order to learn about free and low-cost resources on writing and online research.  WISR faculty are also ready to help you learn about how to take notes, develop and organize a paper topic and outline, improve your grammar and sentence structure, while also writing in an engaging and down-to-earth style that is in your own voice.  WISR faculty will also help you make use of resources that provide information about the several main conventions for citing references, and other technical details that are important, especially if you wish to submit articles or a book for publication.  Students who are interested in publishing some of their writings should inquire about options at WISR–through our new online journal and WISR Press.

10) Go to the webpage for this course on Library Resources, Online Databases and WISR’s Career Center.  Familiarize yourself with these resources, and with how WISR’s faculty and Librarian can assist you in your studies and in your career planning.

11)  Finally, and very importantly, the culminating assignment for this course is for each student to draft, and then revise, based on discussion with one or more faculty members (and other students, if desired)–an autobiographical statement, a preliminary educational plan, and a self-assessed inventory of strengths, limitations, challenges, and needs.  For more information, go to:  Projects and Papers.

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