PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Online Program Book

CO-SPONSORED SESSION: Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Committee and Graduate Student Committee and Teaching Religion Unit
Theme: Teaching Unfamiliar Topics
Unregistered Participant, Presiding

In collaboration with the Graduate Student Committee and the Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Working Group, the Teaching Religion Unit is facilitating conversations about teaching unfamiliar topics and/or teaching outside one’s research area. This session will take place as conversations around tables focused on particular areas or courses. We anticipate that our presenters and participants bring a range of pedagogical experience and research knowledge to each table so that faculty currently engaged in teaching unfamiliar topics, faculty who anticipate teaching outside their research subjects, and future faculty, including graduate students, can share tips, tricks, and sources.

Unregistered Participant
Teaching Unfamiliar Topics

I will discuss teaching as contingent faculty in the small college/department environment, having taught multiple topics outside of my research area. I will facilitate a conversation focusing on resources for course preparation, the challenge of having confidence as an instructor, and how teaching unfamiliar topics present opportunities for enhancing one’s pedagogical practices and learning. Teaching an unfamiliar topic is an opportunity to thinking creatively about learning activities and to model lifelong learning.

Unregistered Participant
Teaching Islam Across the Curriculum: Strategies for Enhancing Teaching about Islam Beyond the Religious Studies Classroom

This paper discusses the successes and struggles of a 2019 faculty development workshop titled “Teaching Islam Across the Curriculum” (TIAC). According to a 2018 survey, 45 faculty members at Ball State University (BSU), in departments spanning from Criminal Justice to Architecture, teach about Islam. The majority expressed a lack of confidence when teaching the subject. This survey demonstrated that most teaching about Islam at BSU happens outside of religious studies classrooms, led by faculty with no formal training in the subject who feel insecure about this. TIAC addressed this by inviting ten faculty members to participate in an 1-week workshop. Through creating an environment for faculty conversation and collaboration, TIAC takes a first step toward improving the quality and quantity of teaching about Islam across the BSU curriculum. This paper will discuss the contours of the workshop, future changes and adaptations, and strategies for implementing similar programs at other institutions.

Unregistered Participant
Strategies for Teaching Unfamiliar Topics

My approach to teaching a less familiar topic is twofold: First, I define the most valuable skills and material that students need to know. I chose three priorities that became outcomes for all of my courses. Second, I borrow course templates and assignments from my existing courses. For example, when I agreed to teach Global Islam, I used my History of Christianity course as a template to orient the tradition-based topic. This meets my desired outcome for understanding global diversity. Common outcomes across courses means that assignments can generally be duplicated as well. Because I want my students to be savvy consumers of media, we begin class meetings in most courses with current event presentations. There is no need for us to reinvent the wheel with each new course, particularly if we have consistent pedagogical aims.

Unregistered Participant
Learning to Swim: How to Survive in the Deep End When Teaching Unfamiliar Course Material

In many liberal arts universities, the population of part-time adjunct instructors employed to teach introductory courses vastly outnumbers the full-time faculty. Most of these instructors teach courses outside their primary field but receive little training in how to teach these courses effectively. By focusing on broader learning goals, appealing to the power of story, and emphasizing real-life application by incorporating experiential learning, instructors can navigate the choppy waters of unfamiliar topics more easily and provide excellent learning experiences for their students.