March 10, 2015 at 5:00pm

Advancing Performance Learning

The unique experience of a Millikin University education is centered on Performance Learning. It was the topic during Millikin's fifth annual Interdisciplinary Faculty Conference (MIFC) held Feb. 20 on Millikin's campus.
The conference featured 25 breakout sessions presented by more than 40 Millikin faculty members. The event not only provided a chance for attendees to share their thoughts on advancing Performance Learning, but gave faculty members an opportunity to learn from one another and celebrate academic achievements.
"During last year's conference, we tried to develop our understanding of Performance Learning and this year's conference was more of a continuation," said Dr. J. Mark Munoz, Millikin professor of international management and conference chairman. "We wanted individual faculty members to present on their experiences with Performance Learning. The presentations were divided into three tracks: In the Classroom, Outside the Classroom and University Based Advances. It allowed faculty to listen to the best practices pertaining to Performance Learning."
Among the breakout sessions was Dr. Stephen Frech's presentation on "Performance Learning as a Hybrid Pedagogy." Dr. Frech, chair of Millikin's English Department, emphasized four key points during his presentation on how he uses Hybrid Pedagogy in his courses: workshop, studio, internship and apprenticeship.
"Student work can be produced outside the classroom, much like a workshop, but it can also be produced during class," said Dr. Frech. "You get to see work through processing and we're providing feedback throughout the class. These are four different models of learning, and I had to learn how to incorporate these types of methods while teaching."
Brandon Hensley, adjunct instructor in the Communication Department, shared insight into what students learn as a member of a research team.
"What we found out from this research is that students are building interpersonal skills," said Hensley. "These are skills students use to work with diverse teams and hear diverse perspectives. What stands out is that it's not always about publishing research '€“ it's the process. The students emphasized a lot about being a good team player and the importance of collaboration."
Jamie Nickell, instructor of nursing, and Dr. Jo Carter, associate professor of nursing, shared how Millikin nursing undergraduates tried to improve the health of the local community through innovative social marketing. Teams of Millikin nursing students in a senior capstone course reached out to a target audience to raise awareness of healthy behavior by using many platforms, including social media.
"The culture of health professions, specifically nursing, involves helping students recognize situations accurately," said Dr. Carter. "One of the biggest challenges for health providers these days is to help people adopt healthy behaviors. This project gave students the opportunity to learn how to use behavior change techniques to promote health."
RJ Podeschi and Ed Weber, assistant professors of information systems, shared examples of applying Performance Learning in information systems through various course projects, including campus-based activities and working with local companies."
"Several of the projects that we've worked on are based on building database applications," said Podeschi. "One of our courses provides a great platform for students to see how databases are built from the ground-up, and how organizations are able to get information through reports and through user interface."
Prior to the breakout sessions, keynote speaker Dr. Marcia Mentkowski, senior scholar for educational research and professor emerita of psychology at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis., addressed Millikin faculty and guests on "Conceptualizing Performance Learning."
The conference concluded with a time capsule ceremony in Kaeuper Hall, Perkinson Music Center. Items that were placed in the time capsule included current pictures, student projects, Millikin marketing materials and CDs from the Millikin University Percussion Ensemble, Latin Jazz Project and University Choir. Millikin University President Dr. Patrick E. White presented a speech on a vision for Millikin in the next 100 years.
When asked how the conference has grown over the last few years, Dr. Mark Munoz says, "It's become a day for the faculty. It's evolved from a simple conference into something that we can all learn and grow from, and continue to build."