HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Effective Teaching Strategies
When teachers think the best way to improve their teaching is by developing their content knowledge, they end up with sophisticated levels of knowledge, but they have only simplistic instructional methods to convey that material.
Questions are one of those mainstay teaching strategies used to accomplish all kinds of learning goals: questions help an instructor gauge levels of understanding; questions can pique flagging interest; questions lead the way deeper into content and questions challenge thinking. Adult educator Patricia Cranton identifies three kinds of questions especially effective at promoting critical self-reflection and self-knowledge.
Course management software programs make it especially easy for instructors to provide students with a set of complete lecture notes. It seems that more instructors are doing this, as witnessed in the regularity with which students ask that the instructor’s notes be posted. But is giving students a complete set of notes a good idea?
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. In the case of what makes teaching effective, he writes, “…a great deal is known about the characteristics of effective university teaching. It is undoubtedly a complicated matter; there is no indication of one ‘best way,’ but our understanding of its essential nature is both broad and deep.” (p. 88–89). He organizes that essential knowledge into these six principles, unique for the way he relates them to students’ experiences.
When reflecting on my experiences as a college professor, several themes from The Wizard of Oz often surface. This well-known story provides a metaphorical view of behaviors that I strive to achieve in my ongoing work with students. In the familiar foursome’s journey to the Emerald City, I see characteristics necessary for teaching excellence—the need to improve, fine-tune and revamp as we travel with students through courses and curricula.
This learning by doing is an excellent example and extension of Dewey’s Experiential Learning Theory, which suggests that everything occurs in a social environment. Learning is a process that includes knowledge, as facilitated and organized by the instructor, as well as, students’ previous experiences and readiness. As educators, we have a responsibility to provide students…
A few years ago I added a simple assignment to my introductory sociology classes, and it has paid off in more ways than I expected. Each student writes an essay for each chapter we cover. In the essay, prepared outside of class, the student identifies what they consider the single most important concept from the chapter unit (anything in the textbook or class lecture and discussion) and then explains why they think it is important. Each student must give an example from their own life experiences that illustrates the idea and establishes its importance, and then relate it to the topic.
As an instructor at a career-focused university, I thought I had experienced it all: great classes and bad classes, classes that ran smoothly and those that required firm management, classes that were a breeze and those that challenged my patience. Despite these experiences, I was unprepared for what became my best class, the one that most changed my outlook on teaching…
“Is The Teaching Professor anti-lecture?” the sharply worded e-mail queried. “No, we aren’t,” I replied, “We’re anti poor lectures … just like we’re against group work that doesn’t work and any other instructional approach poorly executed.”
But the note did remind me that we haven’t provided much on lectures recently, and in all the classrooms I visited this semester, lectures were certainly alive and well (although some were not very healthy). My search for current resources uncovered the article referenced below, which identifies 10 “worthwhile considerations” that should be addressed by those who lecture. The author teaches in a science area and pulls examples from that content.