Effective Teaching Strategies

Telling, Doing, Making Mistakes, and Learning

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…

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Chapter Essays as a Teaching Tool

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.

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The Power of Putting the Students at the Center of Learning

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…

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Improving Lectures

“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.

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What’s Bad about Good Practices?

The Socratic questioning strategy described in the article appealed to me. I could see how it would cut down on quizzes, grading, and the whole sad enterprise of writing multiple- guess questions that dulled students’ thinking. I made some adaptations and expectantly implemented it in my introduction to political theory course.

Those expectations quickly dissolved. At her desk, one of my best students…

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10 Things to Make the First Day (and the Rest) of the Semester Successful

I like to arrive in the classroom well before the students. It gives me time to get things organized. I create an entrance table (I use chairs or desks if there’s no table) that holds handouts for students to pick up. From day one the students learn the routine: they arrive, pick up handouts on the entrance table, and read the screen for instructions. They know what to do, and it saves time. Here’s how I recommend introducing the routine on day one…

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