Antonia Schroeder, winner of the 2022 Cecile Insdorf Award for Excellence in Teaching for Part-Time Faculty, interviewed by Shiao-Chuan Kung (Center for Online Learning)
Shiao-Chuan Kung: Prof. Antonia Schroeder is a clinical educator in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at Hunter College. She is the recipient of the 2022 Cecile Insdorf Adjunct Faculty Award. I met Antonia when she joined us for a camp on making online modules at the Center for Online Learning. Since then, we have seen each other often at professional development events for faculty mostly online. Recently, we crossed paths when we experimented with the newly installed classroom equipment for a HyFlex class.
Antonia, you are a speech pathologist “in real life” and usually work in hospitals, preschools and clinics, right? What brought you to Hunter and to teaching?
Antonia Schroeder: I am actually a Hunter College alumna. I got my graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology sometime in the ’80s. I came to teaching by accident; I was working as a Clinical Supervisor at Hunter’s Center for Communication Disorders and one day I was asked to do a guest lecture for a colleague who needed to attend a conference. To be honest, I was a little reluctant to accept the offer, but after I calmed down, I thought it might be worth a try so I did it and I loved it. As it turned out, the following semester I was offered the opportunity to teach a class of my own.
Kung: Well, kudos to the person who “discovered” you and brought you back to Hunter! Will you tell me something special about your classes? Is there an exercise or assignment that has worked well? An idea that our colleagues can adopt or borrow?
Schroeder: I try to make my classes as interactive as possible. With that in mind, I do “in-class problem-based assignments” where I ask students to work individually or in small groups to solve a variety of clinical challenges. I design the assignments so students are encouraged to use the skills and concepts that they ‘learned about’ in the reading or during lecture. I love this activity because it gives me a chance to see where students may have misunderstood some of the concepts and it gives students an opportunity to see the real world application of the concepts we reviewed. Plus, it takes the focus off of me and puts the focus on the skills and concepts.
Kung: Tell me more about these problem-based assignments. What advice would you offer our colleagues trying to implement them? Maybe you can give us an example of what to do and what not to do?
Schroeder: Most of the problem-based assignments are case studies where I ask students to identify signs and symptoms or develop an appropriate treatment plan. Occasionally, I’ll have students review forms and identify differences and similarities between them. I’ve also had them develop forms and therapy materials. In terms of advice – I’d say take a look at your course learning objectives and work backward from there. If there is a skill you want students to be able to demonstrate by the end of class, think about what mastery of that skill would look like in the real world and design an activity around that.
Kung: Thanks, Antonia. So, focusing on what students should be able to do at the end is the secret sauce in designing good assignments. Because of my role at Hunter, we often talk about tools for teaching and learning when we see each other. Can you tell me about a tech tool that you have experimented with and are excited about?
Schroeder: I am not really a very technically savvy person – when I first started teaching I didn’t even know how to use Word or PowerPoint. I’ve come a long way since then. Over the pandemic I was forced to learn how to adapt what I had been doing in person, to what I could do online. The three tools that I’ve really enjoyed using are VoiceThread, Padlet and Hypothes.is.
Kung: Let’s take one of those tools. Would you go into detail about how you use it in one of your classes?
Schroeder: I have the most experience with VoiceThread – I used it for all of my asynchronous assignments at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, I’ve designed assignments where I have students create VoiceThreads, watch VoiceThreads, and comment on VoiceThreads. I like the tool because it’s multimedia and very interactive. Students also like it – for the most part.
Kung: May I ask why you ask students to create VoiceThreads and how you guide them through the process?
Schroeder: Sometime after mid semester, I ask students to give a case presentation. During the pandemic we couldn’t physically assemble an audience and still maintain social distance, so I asked students to videotape their presentation and post it using VoiceThread. I broke the assignment up into mini assignments so students would become familiar with the assignment guidelines and get used to using the program before the actual case presentation.
Kung: I see. Mini assignments with their own deadlines and practice using the tool lead up to the big presentation. My final question is about your HyFlex class this summer. I know it was your first time experimenting with this mode of instruction. Did you do all 3 modalities–face-to-face, online synchronous and online asynchronous? How did it go?
Schroeder: It went well but it was a lot of work up front. I had taught the same course asynchronously for two semesters so I had a leg up on that part. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make all three modalities (asych, synch and in-person) equivalent. My main concern was that the students who participated via zoom would not feel like they were part of the group.
Kung:That’s indeed a great challenge. So how did you try to make the zoomies feel like they were in the same class as the roomies?
Schroeder: It was a small group. The camera was set up so the students who were in class could see and hear all of the Zoom participants and the Zoom participants could see and hear all of the students who were in the classroom. I tried to ask questions and encourage participation for all students regardless of where they were physically. I think it worked out fairly well but after I get student feedback, I’d like to work on that component some more.
Kung: Antonia, you were so brave to attempt HyFlex! Thank you so much for talking to me. We are SO lucky to have you at Hunter!
Schroeder: No, honestly thank you. I am so lucky to be part of such an innovative and supportive learning community. I have learned so much from you and your team – I don’t think I could have done any of the things I’ve done without you.