Difficult Conversations: Report from CHEP

Members of the Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence partnered with the Academy of Teaching Excellence to host a packed session on facilitating difficult conversations in the classroom at last week’s Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy. The write-up is below: Standing room only for the @VT_GrATE panel discussion on having difficult conversations in the classroom! @VTCIDER …



“Grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.”

“Grades create a preference for the easiest possible task.”

“Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking.”

I truly agree the three conclusions of the study on the effects of grading, and it is not surprising at all. We need to think about what benefits we’ve got from those grading systems in higher education seriously.

I’ve tried my best to receive the best grade for all courses through all my degrees. I believe my great GPA scores are one of my important achievements. However, I’m not sure that my high GPA exemplifies all that I can achieve, because I had to please my professors to get grades instead of pleasing my own creativity.

Undoubtedly without the grading system my education even my life would be much different. At this PhD level of my education, I’m able to have the chance to learn how to be a self-generated and self-motivated researcher without any threats from the grading system. The examples Lombardi mentioned show the opportunities for effective assessment of authentic learning that I would definitely try to utilize for my students in future.

Thinking outside the box




Connect 9 dots with four lines, without lifting your pencil from the paper.














These are the answers for this 9-dot puzzle. To solve the puzzle, we should step outside the normal or expected pattern of responses. In my view, there can be more answers by adjusting line style, plus line weight.

“Yea, Nay or A Third Way?”

I believe that it truly is one of most controversial questions I ever had. My answer is that everything can be the answer for the question: “Yea, Nay or A Third Way?”, the point of my answer is having “openness to change” and “an atmosphere of freedom” in any class(room).

"We can also ask students to use their devices in ways that help them and the rest of the class, looking up a confusing term, polling their friends on Facebook about a topic we're discussing or taking collaborative notes in an open document."

"We can ask students to close their laptops at particular moments, recognizing that it is useful to learn different things, at different times, in different ways."

I understand both approaches, the core is finding a way to balance the use of those new tools in order to maximize educational efficiency. There is no right answer, there could be various answers based on the type of subjects, the field of study, and the level of study. The point is either not allows them to use their laptops in class or not, rather we should focus on the question that Douglas Thomas posed: In the twenty-first century, “how do we cultivate the imagination?”


The meaning of pedagogy for me is constantly changing as time goes on, particularly due to changing my cultural aspect and the rapid development of technology.

Pedagogy means교육학[敎育學] in Korean; 교육[敎育] can be interpreted into two meanings: education or training. I believe the education we are referring to in higher education is education rather than training. 학[學] is the word which represents a field of study.

In the Korean dictionary, 교육(education) is aiming to build one’s personality by teaching knowledge or skills. In the process of education, the important role is building one’s character/personality, which differentiates education and just training. For instance, educators play the important role not only in helping one achieve their academic goals, but also in helping the formation of one’s character. In Korean society, there is an old saying that teacher is considered as a parent. As Korea is part of the Confucian culture, the idea of Confucian 군사부일체 [君師父一體] could be a great indicator of status. It means that the king, teacher, and father should be treated the same.” Such strong responsibilities have framed my approach in understanding of pedagogy, and now it’s being developed in global society by interacting with inspiring colleagues from different backgrounds and countries.