In her 2010 presidential address to the Midwest Sociological Society (a published version of the speech is referenced below), Diane Pike proposed three ideas about teaching that she says are dead. She borrows the concept of “dead ideas” from a book by Matt Miller, The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash New Prosperity (2009). Pike explains, “Ideas are dead because they are no longer correct, if they ever were. They are tyranny because we cling to them despite the evidence. Thus, we fail to act as we should.” (p. 2) Here are highlights from the three dead ideas Pike discusses in her speech.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
In an interview with The Teaching Professor, Christine Stanley, vice president and associate provost for diversity and professor of higher education administration at Texas A&M University, and Matt Ouellett, associate director of the Center for Teaching & Faculty Development at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, offered a brief overview of their approach to creating a learning environment that is welcoming to students of all backgrounds.
The title of Nadine Dolby’s recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education makes a great point about teaching that often goes unspoken: “There’s no learning when nobody’s listening.” It seems to me that most of us take this for granted. How many of us take steps to ensure our students are not only hearing the words uttered during our classes, but actually listening to them. Should we? And what might this entail?
This study begins with some pretty bleak facts. It lists other research documenting the failure rates for introductory courses in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics. Some are as high as 85 percent; only two are less than 30 percent. “Failure has grave consequences. In addition to the emotional and financial toll that failing students bear, they may take longer to graduate, leave the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] disciplines or drop out of school entirely.” (p. 175) The question is whether there might be approaches to teaching these courses (and others at the introductory level) that reduce failure rates without decreasing course rigor.
In a recent faculty-development program focusing on online learning, the number one request from participants was “How do I create a sense of community in my online course?” Online tools and technologies can help us create a sense of community to enhance teaching and learning at our institution. The following are benefits of such an undertaking:
As I left my desk to attend the faculty development workshop, I picked up four thank-you cards for the rotations program, a report to read, and a newsletter to edit. I’ve been to dozens of development seminars, and I’ve learned to be prepared with something else to do in case the presenter is mind-numbingly boring. The pleasant surprise of the morning was that the speaker engaged us in learning for more than three hours! How did he do that?
As professors, we all have seen first-time students who are so nervous that they do not even know where to begin, let alone how to achieve their educational goals. I am one of those lucky professors who works with adult students who are going back to school for a myriad of reasons, and are choosing to take online classes. Not only do these students need help with writing an academic paper, and how to submit an assignment to a dropbox, but their self-esteem and support system are sometimes lacking.
There is nothing quite like real-time feedback to determine if students really got it! Just about every faculty experiences that look—students’ eyes indicating that they understand or do not understand the explanation given or the conclusions just drawn. But how do we really know that our students are not merely acting the part when they nod in agreement, trying to get us to believe that they understand something when they do not? I have no idea what is really taking place behind those eyes or what is going on in a students’ brain so this is where Socrative comes to the rescue.
In an interview with Online Classroom, Veronica Diaz, associate director of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, offered the following advice for creating a better blended course:
Begin with a solid foundation in online learning pedagogy and technical knowledge. “If you are an experienced online instructor, you are much more likely to produce a much higher-quality blended course because you’ve been involved in all the technology-mediated types of issues that you would have come across in an online modality. So you’re familiar with what can go wrong. You have something you can really build on.”
Most professors want students to know how to research and write in their fields. In fact, many degree programs now have introductory courses for majors with content that addresses these research and writing basics. However, the assumption that students learn everything they need in one course is a faulty one. All of us who teach courses for majors need to regularly revisit this content if students are to develop these research and writing abilities. Let me be specific and suggest six things professors can do that help students improve in both areas.