philosophy of teaching and learning
Earlier this year, a couple of contributions to The Teaching Professor (Haave 2014) and Faculty Focus (Weimer 2014) discussed the place of learning philosophies in our teaching. The online comments to Weimer’s blog post (2014) made me think more about how we as instructors need to be careful to bridge instructivist and constructivist teaching approaches for students not yet familiar with taking responsibility for their own learning (Venkatesh et al 2013).
I love it when something in the blog leads us to new ideas and insights. Neil Haave, who teaches on the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta, submitted an article on learning philosophies. (You can find the article in the April issue of The Teaching Professor newsletter) His thinking about learning philosophies was stimulated by his experience evaluating e-portfolios, which were being piloted on his campus, and by a couple of posts on this blog (November 13, 2013 and January 22, 2014). He was struck by how few insights the seniors preparing these portfolios had about themselves as learners and came to the conclusion that they should start writing about how they learn long before the end of their academic careers.
The quest to identify the ingredients, components, and qualities of effective instruction has been a long one. Starting in the 1930s, researchers sought to identify the common characteristics of good teachers. Since then, virtually everybody who might have an opinion has been asked, surveyed, or interviewed. Students have been asked at the beginning, middle, and end of their college careers. Alumni have been asked years after graduating. Colleagues within departments and across them have been asked, as have administrators, from local department heads to college presidents.
This week I’ve been reading up on a variety of group structures now being used, mainly in the sciences, to get students working together on understanding and mastering course material. As I read about these interesting models, I keep hearing faculty respond: “Great, but I teach content that must be covered in this course.” And that excuse prevents them from considering any strategy that diminishes the amount of content they can get through in a class period, even though most are wise enough to know that just because it’s been covered doesn’t mean it’s been learned.
Although they are a fairly recent innovation, most faculty are familiar with teaching philosophy statements. Many have prepared them for job interviews, for promotion and tenure dossiers, for teaching awards, or for personal benefit.
It’s not always easy to differentiate between critical pedagogy, active learning, and the learner- or learning-centered approaches. Each is predicated on the notion of student engagement and proposes involvement via such strategies as collaborative and cooperative learning and problem-based learning. All recommend a move away from lecturing. Critical pedagogy is the most extreme of the
Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement
Writing a philosophy of teaching statement can make even the most experienced educator feel intimidated. Motivate students? No problem. Juggle an endless list of responsibilities? Check. Make course content come alive? Done. But when it comes to putting their teaching philosophy to paper, it’s hard to even know where to start.