Online learning has quickly joined the ranks of higher education as a necessary alternative to traditional face-to-face instruction. While this substitute requires a significant amount
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
research on teaching effectiveness
Last week I tried to write a blog post about research article reviews—those quantitative, qualitative, or narrative summaries of where the research stands on a given issue. I couldn’t make the post work. It ended up being a tirade about the disconnect between research and practice.
Evidence-based teaching seems like the new buzzword in higher education. The phrase appears to mean that we’ve identified and should be using those instructional practices shown empirically to enhance learning. Sounds pretty straightforward, but there are lots of questions that haven’t yet been addressed, such as: How much evidence does there need to be to justify a particular strategy, action, or approach? Is one study enough? What about when the evidence is mixed—in some studies the results of a practice are positive and in others they aren’t? In research conducted in classrooms, instructional strategies aren’t used in isolation; they are done in combination with other things. Does that grouping influence how individual strategies function?
Humor, whether in the form of jokes, riddles, puns, funny stories, humorous comments or other humorous items, builds a bond between the instructor and students; bridging the student-teacher gap by allowing students to view the instructor as more approachable. A number of researchers have found that humor is instrumental in creating an inviting classroom environment, reducing stress, improving attention, enhancing learning, creating a positive emotional and social environment, reducing anxiety, enhancing self-esteem, and increasing self-motivation.
The argument persists: teaching and research are complementary—each in some synergistic way builds on and supports the other. Standing against the argument is an impressive, ever-growing array of studies that consistently fail to show any linkage between teaching effectiveness and research productivity. Because administrators have a vested interest in faculty being able to do both well, the two sides continue to exchange arguments and accusations in a debate that has grown old, tired, and terribly nonproductive.
Now that I’m one of those “senior” faculty, I hear a lot of digs about faculty who need to retire … deadwood, still standing but hopefully about to topple. The belief that the teaching effectiveness of most “seniors” declines is strong and persistent. Is it true or yet another one of those academic myths?