|Students at UMBC participate in a Touchstones discussion.|
Students of all ages come to college with differing levels of maturity, life-experience, academic preparation, and self-awareness. Many students are entirely under-prepared for the rigors that await them in their post-secondary studies. Other students lack the self-knowledge and communication skills they need to become authentic collaborators with their peers. Through Touchstones’ innovative discussion classes, students form a community of learners that works together to develop the essential skills needed for success in college and in life.
Each Touchstones seminar class uses a central text specifically selected and edited for discussion. The texts are drawn from a range of classical and contemporary humanities texts across many cultures. With the Touchstones text serving as the centerpiece for discussion, Touchstones students learn to formulate and express their ideas relative to the text. In the process, they speak and listen responsibly and respectively. Students investigate their individual assumptions and presuppositions and compare and contrast them with other ideas articulated in class or by the author, thereby learning to read more closely and comprehend more accurately. Gradually, students assume greater responsibility for their own learning, even sharing the leadership of their discussions.
|Small Group Work at Hampden-Sydney College.|
Individual work, small group work, full class discussion, and discussion evaluation are part of each lesson that systematically fosters respectful discussion, creative thinking and problem solving, and a genuine sense of connection. Touchstones’ participants become life-long learners empowered with the skills they need to succeed in post-secondary studies and professional careers.
For these and many more reasons, Touchstones materials are excellent for a range of college learners. Some volumes require no advanced work by your students—ensuring that all students are able to participate in the discussion regardless of their preparation—whereas others do. From Bridge programs and First-Year Experience seminars to English and Living Language programs to Honors Seminar courses, different Touchstones volumes offer texts at reading and experience levels appropriate for your students.
What do instructors have to say about Touchstones? Here is what Ianthe Brautigan-Swensen from Sonoma State Univ. had to say about using Mapping the Future in her FYE course.
“It was AMAZING!!!!! My students loved learning how to seminar and the book made it easy. The self-reflection part of the book made it a lot easier for us to stay on track. Using Mapping made for one of my most favorite teaching experiences.”
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