Emeritus Professor John C. Bean visits UFV
by Gloria Borrows, November 2014
The College of Arts welcomed Dr. John Bean, noted writing pedagogy scholar, for a keynote address and two faculty development workshops on September 26, 2014.
Dr. Bean's keynote, "Using Short, Problem-based Writing Assignments to Promote (and Assess) Students' Growth as Disciplinary Thinkers and Writers," focused on creating well-designed writing assignments that not only deepen students' engagement with course concepts, but also ease instructor marking loads and increase the enjoyment of learning for both students and instructors. While the keynote address created a theoretical context for Dr. Bean's approach to the use of writing for learning across the curriculum, his workshops provided faculty with the opportunity to think about and create their own discipline-based "beautiful problems" as the foundation of writing assignments aimed at enhancing student engagement and "deep" learning of course concepts.
Dr. Bean's visit represented the culmination of several previous events sponsored by the College of Arts Writing Council over the past year and a half aimed at supporting the development of writing pedagogy within and across the disciplines at UFV. In 2013, now retired Associate Dean, Susan Fisher steered the organization of two day-long "Use Your Bean" faculty development events based on ideas drawn from John Bean's very successful book on writing pedagogy, Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom (2nd ed.). Part of those events involved the distribution of 40 copies of Bean's book to faculty across the institution.
Both the recent keynote address and workshops, as well as the "Use Your Bean" events of last year, have been well-attended by enthusiastic and engaged faculty interested in developing their understanding of and approach to writing assignment design and assessment. Presumably, this enthusiasm and support, both from the College of Arts and from Dr. Bean's wealth of knowledge, will continue to contribute to faculty development and student success for some time.