- The interdisciplinary discussion course (IDC) includes dinner (first half-hour) and discussion (final hour) at each meeting.
- This time should be used as an opportunity for students and faculty to become acquainted in an informal setting.
- Discussion time is generously allocated to enable faculty to use a variety of pedagogical methods in introducing course material.
- All courses in the cluster should connect in a way that provides students with different disciplinary approaches to the topic. Faculty should collaborate on these connections. The IDC is one opportunity to introduce these connections to the students.
- The IDC is led by a Duke University regular-rank faculty member, visiting faculty, or staff member. The course may be co-led by a graduate student with a faculty mentor. An undergraduate student cannot lead the course but can assist the faculty member in coordinating the course.
Ideas for Course Design
- Many current students look forward to meeting and hearing from former FOCUS students. Ask program alum to talk about their experiences since participating in the Focus Program. Invite former students to serve as mentors to your current cluster.
- Students enjoy hearing from guest speakers and having access to premier faculty already on the Duke campus. Invite local faculty to give a short talk about some salient topic of interest to your cluster, leaving plenty of time for questions and answers with the students.
- FOCUS students are interested in learning more about the research interests of their faculty. Ask each faculty member to host a discussion night during which, the faculty member can talk informally about his/her teaching interests, research and career pathway.
- Do not limit your discussion course to only guest lectures. Consider these other options: attending or participating in a dance and/or theater performance, participating in a dramatic reading, watching a film, visiting a museum exhibit. There are many resources in our local community which will enhance learning.
- Focus Program students should learn to present their ideas in a public space with confidence. The discussion course can be a forum for student creativity and an outlet for students to explore their own research interests. Not all your students will take the same courses within the cluster. Ask each course to present a session on what is happening in their class.
- The IDC is an opportunity to present library instruction in support of the learning objectives for the cluster and to engage students in the processes of inquiry using library resources.
- You may want to transition between dinner and discussion by allowing students and faculty to make announcements about items of interest to the group.
- Some clusters have found a project-based approach to the cluster theme works well. Divide the students into smaller teams assigned with specific roles for collaboration.
- Students and faculty should have time to prepare for discussion and to structure their thoughts on a topic prior to the meeting. Provide short readings for the students and faculty to facilitate this preparation.
- Use Blackboard to improve communication between students and faculty, including posting readings and pre/post-meeting discussion boards. Communicate course goals and expectations with your faculty and students early in the semester through a course syllabus, provided to the course participants on the first day of class.
- The cluster must have high faculty involvement to effectively integrate research service-learning or a community service component into the course. Link this component to participation expectations for both students and faculty.
- All faculty are expected to be an active part of the Focus Program community. This includes participate actively in their cluster’s IDC by attending the course regularly and engaging the students in discussion.
- All faculty are expected to meet throughout the semester to assess student progress and the intellectual direction of the cluster.
- The faculty are expected to plan and participate in the extra-curricular and out-of-class activities.