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Cromwell Center

Cromwell Center Update

Cromwell Demonstration Classroom now on line.

The Cromwell Center provides Washington College with resources that support faculty innovation in education.

Cromwell Demonstration Classroom now on line.

The Cromwell Center provides Washington College with resources that support innovation in how our classes are taught. For instance, a demonstration classroom was created in Daly Hall to give our faculty an opportunity to try out a new way of arranging a classroom to facilitate active learning. 



A new look for the Cromwell Center

You may be familiar with Goldstein 218, currently designated as the Cromwell Center for Teaching and Learning during the construction of the new Cromwell Center in the Board of Education Building on Washington Avenue.  The room is very popular with faculty and students and so has experienced heavy wear over the years.  The white walls were marked, the carpet was coffee stained, the ceiling tiles were dirty, the tables and chairs were worn. 

Through the generosity of the Cromwells and the hard work of our own maintenance staff, this room has been refurbished.  The walls are freshly painted, the carpet steam cleaned (twice!), the ceiling and lights now glow brightly, and new tables and chairs have been installed that are lighter and more easily moved into different configurations.  Do students appreciate the change? See for yourself.

Tablets for teaching

The next step is to equip the room with tablets that faculty can use in their classes.  After consultation with our experts in ET/OIT, we have just ordered several top end iPads and Windows Surface Pro 2 tablets.  When they come in, instructors who wish to see how Mac and Windows tablets might work in their classes will be encouraged to borrow them for a few days.  Once we have a better idea of what platform our colleagues prefer, we will equip GLD 218 with the appropriate tablets. 

Cromwell Fellows Program

The Barbara and George Cromwell Center for Teaching and Learning is pleased to announce that four proposals for blended courses were approved.  The goal of these blended courses is not to replace face-to-face contact time but to create on-line content that engages students out of class in a fashion that enhances class time and creates an environment of less lecture and more discussion.

Provost’s Cluster Lunch Program

One of the many hallmarks of a dynamic faculty such as our own is that we share experience and knowledge, discuss pedagogy and help each other to grow as professionals. Provost Chamlee-Wright in conjunction with the Cromwell Center for Teaching and Learning is sponsoring an initiative whereby 2 or more faculty who wish to share expertise or discuss common pedagogical  issues can meet to discuss and share over lunch at the Hodson Dining Hall.  These teaching cluster groups must consist of at least 2 professors and ideally they meet twice per semester. To apply for support, simply fill out this form and send it to the Director,  George Spilich. 

2015-2016 Academic Year 

Several initiatives that enhance what the faculty can do in the classroom were supported through the Cromwell Center this year.  The following is a summary of the major projects in progress, starting with curricular enhancement and then progressing to other initiatives.

2015-2016 Curricular Awards through the Cromwell Fellows Program.

After a competitive review process, the following courses were selected through the Cromwell Fellows Program, which supports innovation in teaching at Washington College.

CHE 202:  Organic Chemistry II  Professor Aaron Amick

Organic Chemistry is a foundation course for Chemistry and Biology majors and an important part of the undergraduate education of Pre-Med, Behavioral Neuroscience, Environmental Science and other health related fields.  Professor Amick’s revision of Organic Chemistry I was so successful that he proposed to enrich Organic II.

MUS/ANT 329: Cuba Music and Culture Professors Aaron Lampman and Kenneth Schweitzer

Professors Lampman and Schweitzer have created a fieldwork course that combines anthropological and ethnomusicological approaches to the study of Afro-Cuban music.  Students travel to Cuba during the break between Fall and Spring semesters and as their time in Cuba is limited, a considerable amount of the course preparation and discussion occurs prior to their departure. Traditional classroom   meetings and on-line discussions continue after the students return to campus and their final projects are both written and multimedia.

ECO 300: Information Economics Professor Adi Mayer

One of the more important developments in economics is the realization that economists need a deeper understanding of the role of information in economic interactions.   To develop the insights that lead to this understanding has traditionally required mastery of high level mathematical and statistical tools.  Professor Mayer will create visual and graphical tools that allow his students to explore these complex interactions in order that they would grasp these difficult concepts.

MUS 200 level: The Sound of Buddha: Ritual Performance in Japanese Buddhist Traditions. Professor Jon McCollum

This course introduces students to the history, institutions, doctrines, music and ritual practices of Buddhism in Japan.  Using Skype, YouTube, Canvas, and other technological online platforms, this course will extend the classroom to the world through real-time interviews with Buddhist masters and students from various Japanese schools and sects, analyze online digital historical manuscripts, and make use of various media to illustrate the global nature and present-day relevancy of Buddhist performative traditions

ENG 206: Shakespeare II. Professor Kathryn Moncrief

The two course Shakespeare sequence is a foundation for the English major and also one of the most popular courses on campus.   Through his art, Shakespeare teaches us how to live a life in full.  Professor Moncrief supplements the traditional readings with selected video of professional presentations of Shakespeare’s work; in this way, students both read the text and see how that same text when presented on the stage can create a fuller understanding of the Bard’s work.  

PSY 494: Advanced Counseling Skills with lab: Professor Amanda Sommerfeld.

Experiential counseling techniques are unified by the philosophy that change grows from experience.  In this course, students create mock group therapy sessions which are recorded, edited for clarity and structure, and then turned into teaching modules that will be used in future semesters.  By experiencing a technique rather than just talking about it, students come to a deeper understanding of the different techniques.

Other Initiatives supported by the Cromwell Center this year

Provost’s Teaching Cluster Lunch program: The Cromwell Center continues to provide support for the Provost’s Teaching Cluster program, in which faculty who share a common interest such as technology in the classroom, classroom management issues, developing internships, etc. meet twice a semester to share a meal and ideas.   This is a very popular program.

Continuing Professional Education:  The Cromwell Center for Teaching and Learning is committed to providing continuing professional education for the faculty at Washington College.  The Center provides training and software to support faculty wishing to create their own content for their courses; in addition, the Center supports projects of any type that will improve the quality of undergraduate education at Washington College.  Examples of that global commitment are the next two items on this report.

Writing across the  curriculum program: The development of critical thinking expressed through clear and crisp writing is central to a liberal education.  We value the development of writing in every course in all departments, and so the Cromwell Center committed to a three year project proposed by the Writing Center to provide continuing professional education for all faculty interested in improving their writing instruction skill set.

New Faculty Orientation:  As a part of the Provost’s orientation to new faculty, the Cromwell Center provided an overview of resources and programs available to the faculty through the Center. 

Classroom Enhancement:  In 2014, the Center began an experiment in which traditional chairs and tables were replaced with Node chairs.  Node chairs enable an instructor to quickly break a class down into work groups of any size and then quickly return the class to traditional lecture mode; this capability is important in modern language instruction as well as active learning courses.  The first room so designated as a Cromwell Classroom was very positively received and so plans to convert additional classrooms to Cromwell active learning classrooms are in progress.

Node chairs in group project modeNode chairs in group project mode







Speakers:The Cromwell Center seeks nominations for a speaker or speakers that reflect the Center’s mission of engaging the faculty in unhurried conversation about the craft of teaching. This spring, Dr. Sherry Turkle of MIT will be our featured speaker; her topic is the importance of face-to-face conversation and interaction in a world increasingly dominated by conversation conducted at a distance through technology.  

2014-2015 Awards

Enhancement of Content for Organic Chemistry

Professor Amick is creating a series of short-on line lectures that illustrate concepts frequently confused in O-Chem. These modules would allow students to review these concepts as many times as necessary.

Virtual Congress for Poly Sci 311 Congress and the Legislative Process.

Professor Hopper teaches an upper level Poly Sci course on Congress and the Legislative Process. An innovative part of that class is a virtual legislation where students propose bills, debate them, modify them (and even try to kill them) and then vote on them.   She will make this on line legislative process a much larger component of the class.

On Line peer to peer review for English 101 Literature and Composition

Professor Meehan will enhance the writing component of ENG 101 with tools that would improve his ability to offer peer review and commentary on student work in the First Year Writing Course.

Enhanced Content for Math 202 Integral Calculus

Professor Russell is creating enhanced content that would convey math concepts in Calculus so students can review these concepts at their own pace.

Simulated patient videos for Psy 233 Psychopathology

Professor Sommerfeld will film students creating simulations of psychiatric disorders that reflect DSM-V categories covered in Psychopath I.  The goal is to help students distinguish disorders based on therapeutic conversations that occur in conjunction with psychological testing. 

Enhanced Content for POL 373: Human Rights and Justice

Professor Wade’s course contains both content and an experiential component where students design and implement a public awareness campaign on a topic associated with Human Rights.  Professor Wade is creating lecture content that can be delivered on line to free up class time for these campaigns

2013-2014 Awards

Stewart Bruce and Erica McMaster of the GIS Lab: 

Ant 109 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems.

Matthew Kibler of the Quantitative Skills Center: 

Creation of an extensive set of modules that support students’ learning of important quantitative skills that underlie the Economics curriculum as well as other curricula.

Ken Schweitzer of the Music Department: 

Music 100 Level: History of Rock.  This course will be enhanced with on line content ranging from video clips, music and newspapers of the time that will expose students to changing musical genre, cultural and ethnic differences and require them to reflect prior to class discussion.

Susan Vowels of the Business Management Department:

BUS 304: Management Information Systems: The development of an electronic text with hyperlinks will be the basis for the development of the creation of a blended course that is a test bed for ways to increase student engagement and discussion.