Are your students too conservative? I don’t mean their politics—I’m talking about their attitudes toward ideas and actions that are new, difficult, or complicated. Many of my writing students are conservative learners: they worry about grades and want to “play it safe,” they don’t take time to imagine alternatives, or they have low skill or confidence levels that reduce their abilities to try new things. And sometimes my own teaching or grading practices undermine my invitations to take the intellectual risks that are crucial to student learning.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
The growth of knowledge within your discipline is what makes being a professor so exciting, but it also presents new challenges–particularly when it comes to teaching. Because the time allotted for each course remains constant and the content that could be included in any course continues to grow, you may find it difficult to try to cram all this information into a course.
My recent foray into using MP3s to teach college level English classes came out of my need to reach more of my non-traditional students. I saw a trend developing where more adults than ever were seeking a college education or even returning to college to change careers, and it only followed that I had a responsibility as an instructor to try and reach these students. It also became apparent in my classroom that I wanted to not only reach, but to retain these non-traditional students who seemed to become easily frustrated with the more traditional lecture and textbook methods.
What are makes an effective teacher?
This particular list of characteristics appears in an excellent book that is all but unknown in the states, Learning to Teach in Higher Education, by noted scholar Paul Ramsden.
Instructional Design: Six Strategies to Make Courses More Learner Centered Without Sacrificing Content
Concerns about covering content are legitimate, but they often block a whole family of techniques that more effectively involve students and promote learning. “I know I should do more active learning, but I have all this content to cover . . .” We routinely favor involving students but we do so understanding that the content-coverage dilemma confronts faculty with difficult decisions.