Jun 26, 2020
Dmitriy Ivanov

Assumption Prof. Develops Open Resource for Remote Learning 

Assumption Associate Professor of Psychology and Interim Director of the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence (D’CTE) Professor Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Ph.D., is one of a team of 16 experts in teaching and learning across the nation who have produced a collection of open-source resources that provides guidance to faculty on developing emergency remote instruction.  

Pedagogies of Care: Open Resources for Student-Centered and Adaptive Strategies in the New Higher-Ed Landscape, compiled by some of the contributing authors of the West Virginia University Press (WVUP) Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Series, is an online collection of resources that vary from infographics to videos to models for discussion on remote learning. 

“This project was motivated by a desire to give back to the higher education and educational development communities in a time of unprecedented challenges to instruction and learning,” said Prof Cavanagh, adding that the group began their work in early April. “The purpose is to provide brief, accessible, useable materials sourced from the ideas in an open-source format. These resources can be used by individual professors or teaching centers to help faculty adapt their teaching practices to meet the demands of online pivot and the possibility for more disruption in the coming academic year.” 

For her part of the project, Prof. Cavanagh collaborated with Joshua Eyler, Ph.D., a University of Mississippi teaching center director and fellow WVUP author, for tips on how to develop social and emotional presence in both online and blended environments. In their presentation, “Building a Pedagogy of Care with Social and Emotional Presence”, which is accompanied by a Resource and Discussion Guide, Profs. Cavanagh and Eyler present three principles for consideration: 

1.    You are a person—show it. Prof. Cavanagh advises her peers to tap into and highlight their personal strengths in teaching, which can be evaluated through self-reflection, asking friends or colleagues, or through recordings. She advises faculty to explicitly set ways to enact these strengths.
2.    Your students are people – show you know it. Prof. Cavanagh urges faculty to show awareness of students’ personhood by asking about their lives outside of the classroom, follow up on letters of recommendation that were written, and with poll check-ins, citing evidence from a D’CTE research project.  
3.    Tap into our ultrasociality, i.e. take advantage of your socialness to influence and affect others. Use immediacy cues and present in the moment; these include eye contact, gestures, posture, verbal and non-verbal, and using the word “we” instead of “I.”

“Like all the books in the Teaching and Learning Series, our intention was to present ideas that were both evidence-based and student-centered,” said Prof. Cavanagh. “It was wonderful to work with this team of energetic, hopeful writers and educators.”

The Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Series from WVUP, which is edited by James Lang, Ph.D., Assumption University professor of English and director of the DCTE, publishes practical, research-based books for college-level educators about how to overcome challenges and use opportunities created by new technologies. 

The Pedagogies of Care project is free and open to the public with a creative commons license.

Profs. Cavanagh and Eyler were recently interviewed for an episode on the Tea for Teaching podcast about their Pedagogies of Care: Students as Humans project

Prof. Cavanagh is the author of The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (UWVP, 2016) and HIVEMIND: The New Science of Tribalism in our Divided World (Grand Central, 2019).