Scaffolding the Online Seminar: Honors 136—Art, Entertainment, & Social Change

What to Expect in the Showcase

In this showcase, Lecturer Terri Anderson will explain and illustrate the genesis and process of scaffolding a seminar aiming for student success in a student-led online hybrid Honors seminar. Student performance is extraordinarily engaged and advanced; student response is overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Topics to be covered include:

  • How to scaffold student engagement in a seminar
  • The unique value of an entirely online hybrid seminar
  • How to effectively use the online format—including working with Zoom, using the chat bar, effectively using discussion forums, and so on
  • How to develop an original and challenging, yet level-appropriate and doable, set of materials
  • How to coach students through creating an effective presentation

Presenter Bio

Terri Anderson is a Continuing Lecturer with Sociology and the Honors Program. She teaches a wide variety of Sociology courses, including Introductory Sociology, Research Methods, Environmental Sociology, Sociology of Emotions, Self & Society, Social Psychology, Sociology of the Body, Sociology of Mental Illness, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Family, Sociology of Education, Sociology of Mass Communication, Food & Society, and Hip & Cool: A Study of Distinction & Exclusion. She has developed three online hybrid seminars for the Honors Program: Art, Entertainment, & Social Change; Between the Species: The Human/Non-Human Animal Relationship; and Living Consciously: Philosophy in Everyday Life.

Following a 20+ year career of in-person teaching, Dr. Anderson has been teaching online since 2017, and is currently redeveloping her Sociology of Mental Illness course (cross-listed with Disability Studies) for delivery throughout the entire UC system via UC Online.

Selected Q&A from the Showcase

I like the iterative process you are planning to improve this course. How did you decide what to improve for each round of re-design?I address whatever problem seems most pressing at the time. For example, when the class was in-person, the biggest issue I saw was that students were not engaging in informed participation nearly as much as I wanted them to. So the next time the class ran, the students had a weekly assignment to respond to several of the materials in 1-2 pages. They would bring their responses to class each week, then spend about 10 minutes discussing their responses with one other student to warm them up. After that, they had much more to say in the group, because a certain amount of response had been structured into course assignments, and was quantifiable because it was in written form, which was more easily understandable as “graded.” However, these weekly written assignments became MUCH easier once the class went online, as they became the discussion posts, and the conversation was the responses to the posts.
Do you grade those discussions for each post, or is it more for participation?I grade each post based on amount of materials used in response to each of the two topics for the week (at least 3 per topic), and apparent depth of the post. It is not difficult to get full credit (2 points per week). The low-stakes nature of each weekly discussion forum relieves pressure to perform, making it easier for students to “play” in the discussion forum, which tends to lead to more interesting responses and collaborations.
What is your strategy to keep students on track and help them catch up?Students share their concerns with the instructor; and materials are not long; The instructor would invite former students to share their presentations and how they “survived”. Instructor also provided guidance in office hours, “hand-holding”. The presentation is high-stake, but it has been broken down and allows different ways to earn points. TA: For weekly work (2 points in discussion forum, 2 points for live participation), it is not difficult to earn full credit, but students must be consistently engaged. The presentation is much higher-stakes, but is scaffolded into multiple smaller (more doable) parts, each of which is clearly described and explained, and developed in collaboration with the instructor (me).

This Google Doc contains the comments, questions and answers collected during the showcase.