“Learning How to See”: Faculty Members’ Use of Unnamed Contemplative Practices
Keywords:contemplative practices, teaching strategies, faculty perceptions
As contemplative pedagogy on higher education campuses grows, so does interest in supporting additional faculty in using contemplative practices. At our small, liberal arts teaching university in the southeast USA, our faculty contemplative learning circle has steadily widened and worked to integrate mindfulness and other practices into our campus activities. We became interested in how contemplative practices are already happening in our classrooms without being named as such, and if finding out about them might elucidate opportunities to support faculty in deepening and expanding current efforts. This paper presents the findings from an interview study with 35 faculty members not formally participating in faculty activities involving contemplative pedagogy. Faculty spontaneously mentioned some activities that may be considered contemplative in their descriptions of effective teaching strategies, such as class discussions, experiential activities, and journaling. Among a provided list of contemplative activities, the most frequently used were discussions/debates, journaling/reflective writing, and beholding, though the ways in which faculty implemented the activities varied. Faculty offered many examples of activities that could be considered contemplative or introspective, and the ways they used the activities differed by discipline. When asked directly, 18 participants reported that they used contemplative practices or pedagogy in some way, nine reported that they were uncertain about the definition and/or whether they used them, and eight responded that they do not use them. Many faculty members also indicated interest in learning more about how to incorporate contemplative practices in teaching, suggesting an opportunity for enhanced faculty development efforts.
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