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Two Professors Experience Growth and Renewal
During Mid-Career Fellowships at Princeton

10/7/10


West Windsor, N.J. - Two Mercer County Community College faculty members are back on campus full time after participating in the Mid-Career Fellowship program at Princeton University during the 2009-10 academic year. Professor of Mathematics Don Reichman and Associate Professor of English Carol Bork joined with 10 professors from other New Jersey community colleges, attending seminars, engaging in stimulating discussions about teaching and learning, and writing research papers for presentation to their colleagues. They also had the opportunity to audit classes at the university.

Reichman, who has taught many different math classes during his 34 years at the college, has spent considerable time teaching developmental classes. His research, entitled "An Interdisciplinary Problem-Based Approach to the Foundation Curriculum," focused on enhancing outcomes for these students by looking at developmental programs that have a strong track record of success.

Faculty members Don Reichman and Dr. Carol Bork participated in the Mid-Career Fellowship program at Princeton University. Their research papers are included in "Issues of Education in Community Colleges," published by the university.

Reichman concluded that the most successful programs have been made an institutional priority; they are centralized, with their own identity and director; their goals are clearly defined; and data from these programs is collected and analyzed, with revisions to curricula made based on the data. He found that the best teaching models include the establishment of small learning communities that are project based and focus on timely topics.

As a long-time faculty member, Reichman jokes that he may not exactly be mid-career - "That would make me 90 by the time I retire" - but, nonetheless, he was glad he participated in the Fellowship Program and believes he has gained new insights and perspectives as a result of his time at Princeton. "I feel reinvigorated. My research gave me ideas about how to structure foundations courses based on sound strategies and proven justifications."

Dr. Bork, who began teaching at MCCC in 2003, was also highly enthusiastic about the fellowship experience. "I had more time for reading, researching and writing," she said. She particularly enjoyed a class she took last fall, "Gender and the Rise of the Novel in Europe," which had only six students and was held in the professor's living room.

In her research paper, entitled "Teaching Literature in the Twenty-First Century: Notes toward a Postmodern Pedagogy," Bork looked at the layers of interpretation that a given work of literature can generate based on the reader's perspective. She pondered numerous questions. "In addition to form and structure, what are the strategies employed by readers that go unidentified? What's at stake when someone is reading from a particular perspective?"

Bork observes that teaching literature is not just about getting an answer. "The deeply embedded values that we bring to reading inform our day-to-day lives," she said. In her paper, she notes that recognizing the frameworks of students' interpretations is the first step to creating "a literature classroom that will be transformed into a critical thinking laboratory in which students not only interpret and appreciate literature, but also prepare for their roles as global citizens in our postmodern world."

While highly satisfied by her Princeton experience, Bork says her research project was only a starting point. "It will push me in directions I really want to go, working with ideas to build new ideas."

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