instructor thinking October 19

Refresh Your Course without (Too Much) Pain and Suffering


See if this sounds familiar.

You’re scheduled to teach a course you have taught before that desperately needs revision. The content and pedagogy go back for a decade or more and are both sadly obsolete, or the grades have been abysmal and the students are threatening to revolt, or someone (the department head, a faculty committee, or you) has decided to offer the course online, or maybe you’re just bored and dread the thought of teaching it again.

ff-tp-blog June 4, 2014

“I Tried It and It Didn’t Work!”


Someone sought me out recently to say that she’d tried something I had recommended and it didn’t work. “You need to stop recommending that to people,” she told me. “How many times did you try it?” I asked. “Once and the students hated it,” she responded. This rather direct feedback caused me to revisit (and revise) a set of assumptions that can create more accurate expectations when implementing new instructional approaches.

ff-tp-blog December 11, 2013

The Trouble with Consistency in Instructional Practices and Policies


I’ve started to notice a couple of consistencies in our instructional practice that concern me. First, there’s the consistency in practices across courses, regardless of level. I mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t think capstone and other upper division courses should have the same policies as first year courses. It seems to me that if we still have to hammer students about deadlines, use points to get them participating, and offer detailed descriptions of civil discourse, students have not learned some very important lessons in other courses.

teacheratchalkboard June 6, 2013

Becoming a Better Teacher: Principles That Make Improvement a Positive Process


These principles don’t propose breathtakingly new insights, but they offer a context for improvement that should make efforts to teach better more successful…All teachers can improve; most should. Don’t base efforts on premises of remediation and deficiency. Positive premises work just as well. You can improve your teaching just as effectively doing more of what works well as you can…

ff-tp-blog January 23, 2013

Six Steps to Making Positive Changes in Your Teaching


I’m working my way through a 33-page review of scholarship on instructional change in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines. The authors reviewed an impressive 191 conceptual and empirical journal articles. However, what they found isn’t impressive both in terms of the quality of the scholarship on this topic and in terms of instructional change in general.