Transformative activist stance-based pedagogy in the first year psychology seminar: Students’ authoring the tools of agency and development

Increasingly, community colleges have invested heavily in innovative pedagogical practices that move away from the traditional transmission type of pedagogy. Among these innovations termed high-impact practices, first-year seminars (FYS) play a prominent role. The rationale for FYS is to ease incoming students’ transition to college, promote students’ learning and retention, and introduce them into their majors. This presentation discusses a semester-long, collaborative, inquiry-based research project I developed with students in a FYS Psychology course in an urban community college in New York. My pedagogy was rooted in principles of TAS, which highlights learning/teaching as a process of accessing, co-constructing and authoring the tools of agency and identity development (Stetsenko, 2016). The implementation of this course was based on a critical-theoretical approach (Vianna & Stetsenko, 2014), which connects knowledge with social practice, thus providing students with cultural tools that enable them to critically analyze and position themselves as agentic members of their emerging professional communities and cultural worlds. Specifically, in this project students explored the process of Becoming a College Student in an urban CC in New York City, as they engaged in all steps of the research process while utilizing ePortfolio (a web portal) and other digital technologies. This project also integrated aspects of advisement, orientation to college, and student self-development. This presentation will discuss the accomplishments and challenges of this course, including different ways of collaboration among students, development of communities of learners, engagement in critical discussion of institutional practices, students’ understanding and development of authorship and ownership of scientific knowledge as socially produced, and the importance of reflecting on these processes. I will also discuss challenges of teaching the class and implementing project-based learning, such as the socio-emotional aspect of learning, students’ resistance to participation and compliance with course requirements, and my continuous efforts of addressing them while revising my teaching practice and pedagogy. 
Presenter
LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

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