Course-Level Intervention for Chicana/o Studies and English and Comparative Literature, Digital Pedagogy Faculty Learning Community 2014-15

Instructor: Emily Hicks, Chicana/o Studies

Summary: Professor Emily Hicks integrated a new pedagogical innovation into three Chicana/o Studies and English and Comparative Literature courses to address learning outcomes for critical reading, sustained writing and imaginative engagement within diverse cultural and historical contexts. She developed a template for students to follow as they created online “alternate history” timelines that situated texts and images within historical and cultural contexts. Resulting student projects, as well as Hicks’ own work developing the template, demonstrated the value of creating timelines to negotiate complex issues of personal and global significance.

Final report

What I Did

My project had three parts:  a) a new pedagogical innovation (online timeline and/or geni) used in three courses; b) a rubric based on timelines and responses to four questions for assessment of topic selection, research about topic and image-timeline entry relationship;  c) a template for students based on an alternate history of San Diego designed by the professor (with the assistance of Tonnetta Walcott).

In order to create timelines, including “alternate history” timelines, that can be used by students and faculty, students read critically across multiple media.  Each timeline entry includes a written text and an image.  Students must demonstrate the capacity for sustained, meaningful writing within disciplined professional formsStudents select their own topics for their timelines, and they will determine the years covered.  They will demonstrate that they can situate texts (and images) within historical and cultural contexts. 

The professor’s template shows students how to articulate the value of aesthetic experiences in human culture by focusing on the built environment (historic buildings, architecture and urban neighborhoods), the visual arts and music. This template shows students how to engage imaginatively and thoughtfully with diverse literary and cultural perspectives. In their selection of topics and the creation of their time lines students will negotiate complex issues of personal and global significance. The professor’s template focuses on the color line in San Diego during the Jim Crow era.

The use of the online timeline and geni (pedagogical tools) addresses the following learning outcomes (through the activity of creating a timeline):  a) reading critically across multiple media (in order to select images and to write descriptions);  b) demonstrating the capacity for sustained, meaningful writing within disciplined professional forms (in this case, the form is a concise description of an historical event);  c) situating texts (and images) within historical and cultural context; d)  articulating the value of aesthetic experiences in human culture (by including an aesthetic component in the selection on the topic and in the creation of the time line);  e) engaging imaginatively and thoughtfully with diverse literary and cultural perspectives; and f) negotiating complex issues of personal and global significance.

How It Went

The results of the innovation are based on the work of:  11 participants in CCS 200 Section 1;  12 participants in CCS 200 Section2;  1 participant in 500 level horror genre literature course (Zombies).  Projects were evaluated in relation to the inclusion of class, ethnicity, gender;  Works Cited using MLA format;  the responses to four questions;  comments about challenges of using Prezi or other software;  the preparation of materials for the public presentation of the work the public at Love Library).  Graded on rubric that included points for selection of topic, research, completion of requirements (responses to four questions), clarity and grammar/expression.

This project has helped students to imagine histories and alternate histories and to understand that small shifts in behavior may have large impacts.  Some students used their own ancestry and time line tools while others focused on topics that interested them; many found the project to be more interesting than merely writing an academic paper.

Projects were exhibited to the public at the Media Center at the Love Library at San Diego State University.  Outstanding projects will be used as examples of student work in future semesters.

What I Learned

The creation of online timelines has deepened my understanding of the value of timelines in research. The experience of this project has allowed me to:  a) expand upon a project that is part of my professional development, an art piece and catalog essay for the exhibition What Was Is, sponsored by the La Jolla Historical Society.  I was asked to be part of a panel discussion at the La Jolla Historical Society with architects and city planners.  The Exhibition What Was Is will travel in 2015 to the Bread and Salt Gallery in Barrio Logan (opening June 27, 2015).  I also have completed a book, Melungeons in Literature, Art and Popular Culture.  It will be submitted to Mercer University Press.  Each chapter includes a timeline.