The Bass Digital Education Fellowship program is a joint effort by Duke Learning Innovation and the Duke Graduate School that began in 2019. This academic year, the Digital Education program welcomed its second cohort of Bass fellows. These six fellows took part in a year-long fellowship that offers PhD students an opportunity to collaborate on digital projects in partnership with Duke faculty and under the guidance of Learning Innovation.
This course examines self-help writing as genre and as cultural phenomenon. From business advice about productivity and entrepreneurship, to instructions on how to dress and decorate so as to reveal your “true self,” to the podcasts that help you to be happier through positive thinking and self love, self help is ubiquitous. We’ll be making self help the object of our study, using the methods of theorists of culture like Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu; we’ll also be looking at a few 19th, 20th or 21st century novels that speak to the intersection of literary and self-help ideas of the self. As a Criticism/Theory/Methodology course, this course will focus both on the theories and methodologies that allow us to analyze and criticize self help, and on the reading techniques that allow us to understand the narrative pleasure self help offers.-Self-Help Narratives Course Description
Emma Davenport, a PhD candidate in English, partnered with Professor Kathy Psomiades to design and implement a student podcast project for the Spring 2021 course English 490S-10, “Self-Help Narratives.” This upper-level course acted as the pilot for Davenport’s podcast project toolkit, which Davenport saw as a natural fit to provide students with an authentic assessment, given the focus of the course.
In the development of her project, Davenport worked with Psomiades, Learning Innovation project advisor Elise Mueller, PhD, podcast hosts and producers and other experts throughout the Fall 2020 semester.
Designing a Podcast Assignment Toolkit
The Podcast Pedagogy toolkit is now available to instructors to freely download and use the content in their own classrooms under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. Some of the materials you will find on Davenport’s site include: assignment rubrics, sample student release forms, rubrics and sample podcasts from the Spring 2021 Self-Help Narratives students. Notably, the podcasts produced by student groups include downloadable transcripts as well as audio and show notes.
Accessibility practices are not just evident in this assignment but at the forefront of Davenport’s design principles.
“A central concern of this project, especially but not exclusively in light of COVID-19, is accessibility,” Davenport said at the Bass Digital Education Fellows spring showcase. “I’ve developed this project to employ readily-available free software to ensure that students have equitable access to the benefits of the module, regardless of their level of access to university spaces and resources.”
Examples of this software include Zoom, Google Docs and Audacity — an open-source, free audio software.
Impacting Learning at Duke (and Beyond)
Davenport’s work gave students in the Spring 2021 Self-Help Narratives course the opportunity to practice transferable skills by engaging with and creating podcasts, a now ubiquitous medium.
In sharing her work through the toolkit website, Davenport notes that these instructional materials “can be adapted for use by faculty teaching a wide variety of subjects who wish to implement a podcast project into their courses.” Self-Help Narratives, indeed, acts as an example of how course content and assignments work cohesively with learning objectives, providing students with a rich and innovative learning environment.
You can hear Davenport speak more about her work by watching her presentation for the Bass Digital Education Fellowship Spring Showcase below:
You can read more about the general Bass Digital Education program experience, including the professional development opportunities offered to fellows.
If you are interested in learning more about participating in the Bass Digital Education Fellows program, subscribe to our newsletter to receive an alert when applications open for the next fellowship cohort. Applications for the 2020-2021 session are closed, but we provide more information for the 2022-2023 academic year in Fall 2021. Applications are submitted through the Graduate School. To see a full list of eligibility criteria and required application materials, visit the Graduate School site.