Critical Reflections of Faculty Using TILT in Classrooms at a Historically Black University

Critical Reflections of Faculty Using TILT in Classrooms at a Historically Black University

Devi Akella (Albany State University, USA), Laxmi P. Paudel (Albany State University, USA), Nadeepa Wickramage (Albany State University, USA), and Annalease Gibson (Albany State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9549-7.ch010
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Higher education is considered a strong driver of social mobility and of generating family wealth. However, students of top quartile income group have four times higher chance of graduating from college compared to those in the bottom quartile economic group. Pedagogical interventions such as Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) are promoted in universities to provide equitable access to education to all students irrespective of their ethnic and social backgrounds. In this chapter, a qualitative analysis is conducted using autoethnographic narratives to gather the experiences of faculty members diverse in gender, age, subjective discipline, and ethnic origin, while implementing TILT framework in their respective classes at a Historical Black College and University (HBCU). This chapter consists of faculty perspectives on TILT, of using TILT during COVID-19 pandemic, and the problems they faced when implementing TILT. The chapter also includes a variety of examples on how TILT dimensions can be integrated into different subjective disciplines.
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Post-secondary education can be an effective indicator of one’s successful placement in the labor market. It influences an individual’s income and generates family wealth. In an average, an additional year of post-secondary education causes up to 10 percent increase in wages (Card 1999). As per the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2006) report, post-secondary degree is necessary for majority of the fastest growing high pay occupations. Post-secondary education may also provide broader social benefits and civic engagement. It is also true that the current financial status of the family plays a huge role in a student’s life when planning, preparing, and completing a post-secondary education. Therefore, children from low-income families do not prioritize attending college simply because they think colleges are expensive and unaffordable by their families. In fact, there is a 50 percent point gap in college attendance between kids from top and bottom economic quartile groups, measured in terms of family income and wealth. Even after attending college, individuals from bottom quartile economic group have 35 percent lower graduation rates compared to the ones from top quartile economic group. Students from bottom quartile income group lack college preparation in their high schools. So, even given an opportunity, students of top quartile income group have four times higher chance of graduating from college compared to those in the bottom quartile economic group.

Given these statistics, federal and state governments on a continuous basis initiate different pedagogical interventions, especially at the minority institutions to reduce disparities in enrollment and graduation rates. These intervention programs involve multifaceted approaches ranging from improving student preparation, simplifying the process to access resources, and incentivizing the institutions that design effective strategies. The teaching initiative of Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) widely promoted by the University System of Georgia (USG) as an invaluable tool to provide equitable access to education to all students irrespective of their race and social background (Winkelmes, Boye, & Tapp, 2019), is one such intervention. The faculty member makes a conscious effort to guide the students, inform them of what his/her expectations are, what they need to do, and how they should do it (Winkelmes, 2019). Yet, this initiative demands substantial investment of time and effort by the faculty members, further encroaching on their teaching, research, advisement, and service responsibilities. This chapter critically reviews the TILT intervention in this context, aiming to focus on its merits, reveal the problems and difficulties in its integration in the day-to-day classroom teaching and other faculty-oriented concerns to allow better holistic implementation in the future. In addition, the qualitative methodology of autoethnography was identified to allow “faculty voices” to be effectively heard, their reflections, their anxious moments, their invaluable feedback in terms of designing and using TILT in their classrooms.

Also, to allow highlighting in depth, the influence of external contextual forces and the impact of the policies enacted by the university administration at the macro-organizational level, on the responsibilities of the academics at the micro-organizational level i.e., on their teaching styles, pedagogical techniques and assessment methods used, this chapter adopted an institutional perspective. Institutional theory possesses the ability to deconstruct how faculty members and their decisions can be influenced by external contextual factors. In addition, how their actions/instructional delivery can impact the expected outcome of the student’s overall performance. Instructors formulate the rules, and they also define the available ways instruction is perceived and interpreted based on their behavioral patterns. They have an impact on the decision-making process in giving indications of what would be acceptable, and in determining the individual socialization of norms and behaviors within the classroom (Debroux, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Institutional Theory: Is a theory derived from sociology and organizational studies, which seeks to explain how different institutional and organizational structures come into existence, and how rules, norms and routines formulated within these structures become accepted as appropriate social behavior and code of conduct.

Culturally Relevant Teaching: Means a teaching pedagogy which is grounded in cultural competence, the teachers here connect with their students by relating the course content to their respective cultural backgrounds and racial origin.

Online Learning: Also known as distance learning provides students with an opportunity to educate themselves without leaving home using technological platforms. Classes in online learning modalities are facilitated via learning management systems such as Desire to Learn, Blackboard, or by using mobile apps, email, television, and websites.

Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT): Is a teaching strategy which tries to simplify course content for the students using a three-dimensional framework consisting of purpose-task and criteria. All course activities are clarified in extensive details for the students, with the teacher expectations elucidated and grading techniques (i.e., rubrics, checklists etc.) explained. With the mystery behind the learning process resolved, students find it easier to learn and earn better grades academically.

Integrative Learning: Is a teaching strategy where the instructor tries to make connections across subjective disciplines and within the course as well and relates theoretical concepts to practical corporate experiences to ensure students apply course content in the future to novel and complex issues and challenges.

High Impact Teaching: Consists of those teaching strategies which increase student learning and their academic performances. These teaching methods generate positive and high levels of student learning. Examples include learning communities, study abroad and service learning.

Hybrid Teaching: Combines face to face and online teaching modalities. Important course concepts are taught in class and then students are given an opportunity to apply these course concepts by engaging in collaborative interactive activities virtually.

Experiential Learning: Is a method where students learn course content by doing it and reflecting on this experience. Experiential learning activities include field exercises, undergraduate research projects, study abroad programs and internships.

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