Two St. Bonaventure Faculty Members Seek to Bring CALM to Learning Process

Dr. Althea Bauernschmidt and Dr. Adam Brown discuss their plans for the Center for Attention, Learning and Memory (CALM) during a recent Thursday forum. Credits: Richard Lee

ST. BONAVENTURE – Two St. Bonaventure faculty members have a vision for developing an on-campus center to help students and teachers alike achieve their highest potentials in education.

During a recent Thursday Forum, Dr. Althea Bauernschmidt, assistant professor of psychology, and Dr. Adam Brown, associate professor of education, laid the groundwork for what they called the Center for Attention, Learning and Memory (CALM). They told forum attendees that they hope their work will improve productivity and cognitive development in students by helping the teachers make their lesson plans more retainable by a higher majority of students.

Brown and Bauernschmidt noted that many Ph.D. programs actively discourage prospective applicants from gaining teaching experience at all, let alone train them with effective teaching methods.

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Located in room 118 in De Le Roche Hall, CALM will be a place for strategies and practices based on years of research on student learning habits and teaching practice. The directors plan to communicate those findings to teachers, students and staff.

They said they have detailed their research in an upcoming book, “Five Teaching Myths Debunked: A Guide for Teachers.”

They also mentioned the hindrance of electronic devices in the classroom, which according to Brown are “designed to attract attention,” as well as myths about the concept of multitasking.

Bauernschmidt said multi-tasking does not function the way the average person thinks it does and that it is impossible for the brain to devote attention to more than one task. And that was why she and Brown did not use PowerPoint during the presentation and why they waited to give out handouts after the forum.

Brown said that CALM would mostly be helping faculty and that the collaborations between CALM and the SBU staff would result in “fewer students that forget the information they need for the future.”

One method the two discussed was the concept of “interleaving,” which basically states that cramming for tests is ineffective.

“Thirty minutes of studying is more effective in three 10-minute sessions than in one 30-minute one,” Bauernschmidt said. “The ultimate goal [of CALM] would be working with other people on campus so we could communicate the same advice to students.”

Brown said he hopes that the work he and Bauernrschmidt plan on doing with CALM “sends a message .. that we care about our students and our faculty.”

The two have scheduled a development workshop for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

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