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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
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Wednesday, June 17 • 1:45pm - 2:45pm
CON03.03 - Cohort-building and enabling risk and growth

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In the IASK Program (Integrated Analytical Skills and Knowledge), students enroll in six integrated, thematic, interdisciplinary courses that aim to foster complex evaluativistic epistemological beliefs (Brownlee 2009) in a cohort-based learning environment. Pizzolato (2008) found that students often “short circuit” their own learning, refusing risk in favour of “getting a grade.” One of IASK’s goals is to intervene in this process by fostering a greater willingness to take intellectual risk. A strong, mutually supportive student cohort is crucial and demands that attention be paid to both “heart and head,” the linking of affective emotional stances to “availing” (Muis 2004) attitudes toward learning and knowledge. We begin this workshop with an interactive cohort-building exercise focused on intellectual risk. Psycho-drama activities will be used to map our relationships with risk onto both body and space to move participants from intellectual, at times anxiety driven, responses to “gut level” or intuitive understandings of complex concepts (Landy, 2003). Such exercises encourage deep learning, making space for “heart responses” emblematic of risk and vulnerability, which in turn foster group cohesion (Corey, 2011). We will conclude with a group discussion of the relationship between cohort-building and a harmonious “whole student” approach to epistemological development, asking participants to reflect on the relationship between “head and heart” in their classrooms and the practical ways that this cohesiveness might be better achieved. The workshop addresses the “Learners consideration and support” stream and contributes to the field of personal epistemology by linking theory to classroom practice for the fostering of positive learning environments.


Brownlee, J., Walker, S., Lennox, S., Exley, B., & Pearce, S. (2009). The first year university experience: Using personal epistemology to understand effective learning and teaching in higher education. Higher Education, 58(5), 599-618.

Corey, G. (2000). Theory and practice of group counseling. Belmont, California: Wadsworth.

Landy, R. J. (2003). Drama Therapy with Adults. In C. E. Schaefer (Ed.) , Play Therapy with Adults (pp. 15-32). New York: J. Wiley.

Pizzolato, J. E. (2007). Meaning making inside and outside the academic arena: Investigating the contextuality of epistemological development in college students. Journal of General Education, 56, 228-251.

Wednesday June 17, 2015 1:45pm - 2:45pm PDT
Bayshore Salon EF

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