Learning about Teaching
L. Dee Fink, author of Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (Jossey-Bass, 2003), states in his first chapter:
A variety of elements have created an extremely strong need to improve the quality of our educational programs. At the same time a wealth of new ideas on teaching have emerged in the last few decades that offer college teachers unusual opportunities to make a create response to this situation (p. 1).
As a “student” of good teaching and learning, please use these resources below for your significant learning. The resources are categorized under three subheadings:
Bonus link: Fink has a self-directed guide for developing integrated courses. Click on the link below.
Focus on learner-centered teaching
Learner-centered teaching is a collection of instructional practices that shift the emphasis of courses from the instructors’ goals and methods of delivery to the knowledge and skills that the students develop. Learner-centered teaching empowers you to be the facilitator of your students’ learning as well as the discipline content expert.
Explore these resources for multiple ideas about learner-centered teaching:
• Robert Barr and John Tagg, “From Teaching to Learning: A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education.” Change 27.6 (1995): 12–25. http://ilte.ius.edu/pdf/BarrTagg.pdf Barr and Tagg’s seminal article discusses the shift from the teacher-centered paradigm of teaching to a learner-centered paradigm. “The Learning Paradigm frames learning holistically, recognizing that the chief agent in the process is the learner. Thus, students must be active discoverers and constructors of their own knowledge.”
T&L Guide: http://www.bgsu.edu/downloads/provost/file84393.pdf
• Chickering, Arthur W. and Zelda F. Gamson. “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” http://www.uis.edu/liberalstudies/students/documents/sevenprinciples.pdf Ideas on how to improve undergraduate education with the seven principles based on research on good teaching and learning in colleges and universities. These principles include: (1) contact between students and faculty, (2) cooperation among students, (3) active learning, (4) prompt feedback, (5) time on task, (6) high expectations and (7) respect of diverse talents and ways of learning.
T&L Guide: http://www.bgsu.edu/downloads/provost/file84390.pdf
• Faculty Focus: The Teaching Professor Blog http://www.facultyfocus.com/topic/articles/teaching-professor-blog/ .The blog is written by Dr. Maryellen Weimer, professor emeritus at Penn State and one of the nation’s most highly regarded authorities on effective college teaching. Many of you know Maryellen as the editor of The Teaching Professor newsletter and from her book Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practices (Jossey-Bass, 2002), which is considered the go-to guide for educators looking to adopt a learner-centered approach in their classrooms, http://academic.pgcc.edu/~wpeirce/MCCCTR/weimer.htm.
• Bain, Ken. What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2004. After a 15-year study of nearly one hundred college teachers, Bain discusses what makes teachers successful. His chapters deal with the six major questions about the best teachers. These questions include: (1) what do they know about how we learn, (2) how do they prepare to teach, (3) what do they expect of their students, (4) how do they conduct class, (5) how do they treat their students and (6) how do they evaluate their students and themselves.
• Ambrose, Susan, et. al., How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. Jossey-Bass, 2011. Written by the staff at the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie-Mellon University, this book first puts forth the seven principles (http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/principles/learning.html) and then devotes a chapter discussing the research basis for each principle.
Discover new teaching theories
Being an educator is indeed a dynamic profession. Educators in higher education remain strong learners and researchers in their disciplines and can be life-long learners in pedagogies, teaching theories and techniques.
The resources listed below (in alphabetical order) offer you general insight about theoretical approaches to teaching:
• Adult learning—andragogy. Here is a link about adult learning theory as defined by Patricia Cross, http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/adult-learning.html. And a second link defining androgogy, a learning theory developed by Malcolm Knowles, http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/andragogy.html.
• Inquiry-based learning describes a cluster of strongly student-centered learning and teaching approaches in which students’ inquiry or research drives the learning experience. Students conduct small- or large-scale inquiries that enable them to engage actively with disciplinary or interdisciplinary questions and problems. Learning takes place through an emergent process of exploration and discovery. Guided by subject specialists and those with specialist roles in learning support, students use the scholarly and research practices of their disciplines to move towards autonomy in creating and sharing knowledge. The Sheffield Companion to Inquiry-based Learning offers an overview of themes in the conceptualization, design, practice and development of inquiry-based learning, http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ibl/resources/sheffieldcompanion.
• Project-based learning is a comprehensive instructional approach to engage students in sustained, cooperative investigation (Bransford & Stein, 1993).Within its framework students collaborate, working together to make sense of what is going on. Project-based instruction differs from inquiry-based activity -- activity most of us have experienced during our own schooling -- by its emphasis on cooperative learning, http://college.cengage.com/education/pbl/background.html#Features
• In a problem-based learning (PBL) model, students engage complex, challenging problems and collaboratively work toward their resolution. PBL is about students connecting disciplinary knowledge to real-world problems—the motivation to solve a problem becomes the motivation to learn. The University of Delaware is the best known PBL resource in the United States, http://www.udel.edu/inst/. As part of their PBL materials they maintain a clearinghouse of peer-reviewed PLB assignments and activities, https://primus.nss.udel.edu/Pbl/.
Here are two comprehensive resources:
• Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology. This useful e-book is published by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology and edited by Michael Orey. This e-book covers various topics, including supporting instructional strategies or models, instructional strategies or models for adult learners, and learning and cognitive theories. It also has a discussion page where visitors can post items and edit chapters, http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page.
• Martin Ryder’s Instructional Design Site. Ryder provides an extensive resource list of Instructional Design Models. As he states, “an instructional design model gives structure and meaning to a problem.” This web site contains several models including behaviorist, cognitive, prescriptive design, and constructivist. It offers comparative summaries of all the models, http://carbon.ucdenver.edu/~mryder/itc/idmodels.html.
Don’t forget your personal and professional development
Growth as educator is both important and ongoing. Being able to communicate your teaching persona, composing a teaching philosophy, and learning about teaching ethics are good places to start for your personal development. As you advance in your teaching career, you may be involved in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), as you seek to research and publish your teaching practices. Professional development always includes societies that promote membership, professional conferences, and research within a discipline.
Consider the following perspectives and resources:
An educator’s Teaching Persona includes the decisions that are made about how they want to present the “self” and how others will perceive that teaching “self.” To learn more about developing your teaching persona, investigate the following articles. One by James Lang entitled “Crafting a Teaching Persona” is a strong place to start http://chronicle.com/article/Crafting-a-Teaching-Persona/46671. Also, Jay Parini describes how a persona can be developed over time in his article, “Cultivating a Teaching Persona.” http://chronicle.com/article/Cultivating-a-Teaching-Persona/99957/.
A Teaching Philosophy is an extension of the Teaching Persona in its detailed description of actions that a teacher chooses to support his or her teaching values. For information on writing a Teaching Philosophy the following Teaching and Learning Guide is helpful.
T&L Guide: http://www.bgsu.edu/downloads/provost/file86876.pdf
For an overview on Teaching Ethics, the following Teaching and Learning Guide is a great start.
T&L Guide: http://www.bgsu.edu/downloads/provost/file108262.pdf
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)
According to the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL), SoTL is described as the fostering of inquiry and dissemination of findings about what improves and articulates post-secondary learning and teaching (http://www.issotl.org/index.html). What follows is a list of SoTL resources:
• International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and learning (http://www.issotl.org/index.html) is a thorough international organization focused on all teaching and learning research.
• An exhaustive list of SoTL resources, as compiled by the ISSoTL, can be found here, http://www.issotl.org/SOTL.html.
Like every discipline, teaching and learning has professional development organizations that foster principles and practice and collaboration among educators in higher education. The two most well known organizations in North America are the Professional and Organizational Development POD Network in Higher Education and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. You can investigate these organizations at the links below.