Wednesday, February 1, 2017

SWAG report January 2017


Notes from the first semester at the School of the Arts “...the biggest problem of all at the high school level is that of the balance between the academic and arts study and the exhaustion of the students¹ time and strength" Academic Dean Julia Mueller, Passionate Preference, p. 225

Subcommittee Reports, January, 2017

Academic Advising Subcommittee Chair Janine Hawley reports:
Advising group continued independent work to meet regularly through Fall, 2016, and met with Elizabeth White from the Digital Media team who will help to implement the Academic Advising page on the website where the new Advisor Manual, created by the Advising Subcommittee, will reside. The draft online manual should be up by March 1, and includes information for students and advisors alike. The AA Subcommittee still hopes to develop tools, together with the Registrar, to enhance communication between DLA and Arts Advisors. They are working together to remove a combined Banner/Degreeworks obstacle to clarifying communications between the two.

Reflection and Restoration Chair Jeff Gredlein reports:

Seyle’s General Adaptation Syndrome, shows how the human body eventually breaks down and the immune system can no longer protect the individual after an extended period of time without rest, under continued stress.

John Pencavel, Stanford, "he “profit-maximising employer will not be indifferent to the length of…working hours over a day or week.” He notes a substantial dropoff in productivity after 50 hour work week, as well as the critical nature of a day off. 

In the case of the research on Reflection, three points among many support the need to tear into the schedule:
1)    A growing number of UNCSA faculty are using numerous methods of active reflection with their students in their courses, and find the various practices beneficial to the learning and teaching experience.
2)    The Default Mode Network Model of brain activity shows that while humans show the highest level of neural and cognitive activity when the Attention/Control Network is being used during focused, goal-directed, concentrated tasks (the “Looking Out” activities), there is also high levels of brain activity when the Default Mode Network is in use during reflective, meditative, consolidation type tasks (the “Looking In” behaviors).  – Further, these networks tend to co-activate during creative thinking tasks, and the stimulation of both have been shown to be necessary for creative cognitive functioning.
3)    Reflection has long been know to be a crucial part of the human learning models of cognition, and individuals not allowed proper reflection space in their daily lives can show deficits in numerous areas related to disturbances in memory formation, planning, and problem-solving.

Role of Reflection on Creative Activity in the Brain -
“In humans, the DMN is hypothesized to generate spontaneous thoughts during mind-wandering and believed to be an essential component of creativity.”
- Default mode network: Spontaneous fluctuations in fMRI brain Jaeseung Jeong, Ph.D. Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, KAIST

Flexibility: this committee found itself stymied and has gone dormant until Time Tally matters are addressed, and will regroup if we address time and credit issues.

Time Tally

Time Tally co-chairs Allison Gagnon and Betsy Towns Report

Note that findings apply primarily to undergraduate students unless otherwise stated.
2016 Time Tally Survey- Key Findings

A.    We are not using our key measurement tool to paint an accurate picture of requirements or the student experience, because far more courses fall over or under time expectation than inside.

Note that: There is a finite range for hours under assigned credit; Overages can be infinite  

B.    Where we err:

  1.    Lecture & Seminar style courses in all schools/divisions tend to receive too many credits for the time requirements
  2. Production classes in all schools tend to receive too few credits for time demands. Often far fewer.

C.     Additional major contributing factors:

  1.   All schools credit performance/production differently, and credit it differently inside the school i.e, some curricular, some extracurricular, some carefully measured and supervised, some not at all etc
  2. No schools offer full credit for performance/production requirements, or enough space in curriculum to accommodate these as extra-curriculars

D.    What it means
  1. Most students are required to complete more than 15 credits per term (which normal accounting would equate to 45 hours/ave per week);
  2. Time demands nearly always exceed credits assigned; therefore most students have 50-60 credited hours per week before much performance and production is accounted for give something anecdotal here?

Accuracy in Accounting:
  1. Move toward a model of thinking where  Time is Time is Time, regardless of how it is spent
  2. Work with EPC, Deans, and registrar to insure that Course demands and credits assigned match much more accurately
  3. Determine together, at the Deans’ level, what an appropriate # of hours is; implement strategies and tools for measurement and enforcement
  4. Create space for rest, reflection, and restoration, in recognition of facts that these are critical to learning and creativity

Performance and Production Recommendations:
  1. Deans share strategies for crediting Performance and Production

  1. Make the hard choice: give credits for all required hours or make space in the curriculum for extracurricular requirements.

  1. Assess relationship between student body we have and perf/productions we plan

(Consider also the handling of the individual and the group: I’m thinking of solo juries/recitals vs. ensemble obligations in music, and I’m not sure how these are handled in other schools or if the issue exists to the same extent)
A few Additional Student centered considerations
  1. Institute standard start-stop times across the university to allow the interdisciplinary opportunity that students & faculty overwhelmingly want
  2. Increase opportunities for interdisciplinary immersions during intensive arts like those piloted in 2015 & 2016
  3. Create courses in each school that welcome other disciplines
  4. Coordinate courses like: business skills, career planning, time management, mindfulness across the campus (and even in the community), beyond this coordinate course offerings to minimize duplication and maximize cross-pollination, whether between schools, or between curriculum and production elements

A few opportunities if we fix the workload

  1. Time for interdisciplinary, collaborative, contemporary learning experiences:
  2. Increase opportunities for Alternative Learning experience: internship, international study, course transfer
  3. Individual flexibility in route to degree

Swag next steps:

  1. Survey the Students on workload?
  2. SUMMIT: Teaching the Artist Today
  3. Prototype alternatives
  4. Visit schools that are doing things differently



Addendum I
January 1990

To: Faculty Council

From: Lesley Hunt, Faculty Member

Subject:  A Production Trade School

As the new year – new term begins I challenge the Faculty Council and ultimately the deans and faculty to say NO – enough is enough let us stop this production trade school treadmill that we are on NOW!

We have a new society – the Giannini Society – which encourages people to support Yittorio Giannini’s Dream by supporting the school.  His dream of a “conservatory” where talented young people would come to learn, to discover, to be inspired, to reflect, to research, to explore the many aspects of their chosen profession in the performing and visual arts as guided by those master artists and academicians who continue to practice their profession while sharing their knowledge and expertise to inspire these young students in a relaxed and creative atmosphere.

It would appear that we have lost sight of this dream.  For we are on a treadmill that causes overwork, force feeding, non-creative non-reflective, short-sighted, pressured, result oriented products.

We claim to be about process, how can we when we only have time to “get the next show up”. We do not give students time, (and I don’t mean time off) to reflect, to day-dream, to rehearse, to relax, to read, to write, to create, to discuss, to name just a handful of the ingredients necessary to the nurturing of the creative spirit.

LET US STOP NOW AND RE-EVALUATE WHO WE ARE, WHAT WE ARE DOING AND WHERE WE WANT TO GO before next year is upon us and we once again throw together and patch up an all school production so that we can look good.

Let us examine the QUALITY of the training, of the process, of the product not simply live by how many productions we can “put on”.

“LESS IS MORE” & “QUALITY TIME” – are two well known sayings that we might want to adhere to before we become known as a “Trade School” providing students with a packet of survival skills and commercial glitz.

A new school a little further down south, namely Miami, has a dream and it just may resemble Giannini’s a great deal more than we currently do.

Cc: P. Nelson, R. Trotter, P. Neary, B. Francesconi

Addendum II

Excerpt from  Leslie Banner,  passionate preference, the relevant quotation: "the biggest problem of all at the high school level is that of the balance between the academic and arts study and the exhaustion of the students¹ time and strength"

Addendum III
Quotes from SWAG process
The most important skill UNCSA teaches how to strategically drop the ball
If you can survive UNCSA, you can survive anything
If we’re going to be a production company, shouldn’t we follow union rules?
Just because we’re at UNCSA doesn’t mean we don’t have to follow the rules of physics as governs time.
Shouldn’t we tell the Truth?
Do the curricula drive the production calendar or the production calendar drive the school?