Teaching for Learning
Jump down to additional resources on: Active Learning | Integrating Research & Teaching | Metacognition
Workshop and Conference Presentations
Active Learning and Interactive Teaching (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 5.4MB Mar6 12) - This presentation, given by Janet Rankin (MIT) at the 2010 Minority Faculty Development Workshop, offers tips for designing courses and activities that promote active learning strategies. The presentation provides examples of strategies and pedagogies that use active learning.
Connecting Teaching and Research: Is it the Imposible Dream? (PowerPoint 84kB Mar6 12) - This presentation, given by Donna Qualters (Northeastern University) at the 2006 Minority Faculty Development Workshop, provides information about integrating one's research into the classroom to actively engage students.
Teaching Students HOW to Learn: Metacognition is the Key (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 2.1MB Mar6 12) - This presentation, given by Saundra McGuire (Louisiana State University) at the 2010 Minority Faculty Development Workshop, explains metacognition and its importance in student learning. Metacognition involves students self reflecting on their thinking and learning in order to assess what they do and no not understand and to take control of their learning.
You and Your Teaching Role (PowerPoint 9.3MB Jul30 12) - This presentation, given by Joyce Weinsheimer (Georgia Tech) at the 2008 Cross-Disciplinary Initiative for Minority Women Faculty conference, offers some general ideas for how to design your course to maximize learning.
Active Learning, Course Design, and Assessing Student Learning
Experts recommend designing your course end to beginning: focusing first on what you want your students to be able to do at the end of the course, then on how you will know whether they have accomplished those goals, and finally on what kinds of learning and assessment experiences you will need to provide for them to accomplish those goals (e.g. Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (1998) ). Research shows that students learn far more when they are actively engaged than when they listen passively (e.g., NRC, 2000 ). There are many ways to engage students in their learning, and including even a two-three minute exercise after 12-18 minutes of lecture significantly increases student understanding and retention of material (Wenzel, 1999 ). You can also use these breaks for classroom assessment techniques, to find out how well your students are understanding the course material as you teach it.
- The "On the Cutting Edge" course design tutorial is a "backwards design" tutorial that walks you through the process of designing an effective and innovative course, from setting learning goals to assessing student learning to developing assignments. While the tutorial was written for geoscience faculty, the tutorial provides examples from many disciplines, and offers an easy-to-apply strategy for designing courses in any discipline.
- Interactive Lectures are a great way for instructors to intellectually engage and involve students as active participants in a lecture-based class of any size. Interactive lectures are classes in which the instructor interrupts the lecture at least once per class to have students participate in an activity that lets them work directly with the course content. This could be as simple as having students write for one minute, a think-pair-share activity, posing a multiple-choice conceptual question that every student answers, or predicting the results of a demonstration before you do it.
- The Field-tested Learning Assessment Guide has a wealth of information on choosing classroom assessment techniques, including advice for choosing assessment techniques on the basis of your learning goals.
- Selected References:
- Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain (Bloom, 1956)
- Classroom Assessment Techniques (Angelo and Cross, 1993)
- How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (National Research Council, 2000)
- Understanding By Design (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998)
Integrating Research and Teaching
Integrating your own teaching and research is one way to engage your students; incorporating research projects in your courses is another. The first lets students know that science and engineering are dynamic, interesting fields of endeavor where there are still problems to solve. The second gives them experience in solving real-world problems in the STEM disciplines.
- Integrating Research into Courses provides a list of methods for integrating research activities into the classroom, with examples as well as some information on motivating students. While the examples are from the geosciences, the information is pertinent across the STEM disciplines and beyond. This page is based on a session led by Rachel Beane, Bowdoin College and Steven Wojtal, Oberlin College at the 2005 On the Cutting Edge workshop on Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences.
- Course-Based Research Projects describes one scientist's approach to engaging students in semester-long research activities in his upper-level undergraduate courses.
- Undergraduate Research is a rich set of web pages describing the how and why of engaging undergraduate students in research experiences, in or out of the classroom.
Metacognition is a critically important, yet often overlooked component of learning. Effective learning involves planning and goal-setting, monitoring one's progress, and adapting as needed. All of these activities are metacognitive in nature. By teaching students these skills - all of which can be learned - we can improve student learning. Here are a few resources to get you started teaching your students metacognitive skills:
- Introduction to Metacognition
- Teaching Metacognition
- Using Metacognition to Effect an Extreme Makeover in Students: a 17-minute video of a presentation by Saundra McGuire, from Louisiana State University
- Learning to Learn: What Will They Remember in Five Years?: a 70-minute video of a webinar presentation by Karl Wirth, from Macalester College. While this presentation is nominally addressed to geoscience faculty, the ideas are broadly applicable across academia.
- Selected References on Metacognition
One excellent source of ideas and information about teaching in the STEM disciplines is the Tomorrow's Professor Mailing List. You can sign up to receive email postings twice a week, or search the collection of past Tomorrow's Professor postings for topics of interest.