Teaching

Courses taught:

Clicking on the links for each course will take you to the course blog that I use to organize each class.  I have found that creating a course blog is one of the easiest ways to maintain an updated schedule and provide a running backchannel of class news and discussion.  In addition, a WordPress blog mobilizes much better than our institution’s learning management software, making it easier for students to check assignment due dates and class news.

My teaching philosophy… here’s what I believe:

  1. My philosophy is generally informed by Self-Determination Theory (Wikipedia | Self-Determination Theory Website).  Students (and all humans) are most motivated when they feel competent, autonomous, and have opportunities to relate to others.
    1. I believe that all students seek to demonstrate competence.  The best way to build competence is by varying instruction, frequent competence feedback (formative assessment), and by using multiple means of assessment.
    2. Opportunities for autonomy vary by course.  Courses that have a higher need for content delivery have more structure, and students have less decision-making power.  I have found that by giving students lots of autonomy in a course with heavy content loads, there is inevitable push-back in that students would rather be given instructions and not have so much freedom.  In these courses, however, I try to promote the idea of each student taking ownership of his/her knowledge in activities like a structured academic controversy.  In a structured controversy (basically a miniature debate), a student must learn to assimilate facts and lived-experiences to support an argument, which promotes autonomy more than a one-sided lecture.
    3. I still struggle to understand what relatedness means in classroom education.  I think it is an oversimplification to say that students will be motivated if they feel a bond their classmates and the instructor.  I think of relatedness as relating course content to a global perspective.  When a student feels a sense of relatedness to a common mission or educational goal — when he/she sees how the class will be beneficial to a greater career objective — motivation tends to improve.  I like to discuss how course content will relate to each students future career, but also, how does the course content fit into a larger societal picture?  For instance, what role does motor development have in promoting health and fitness (it’s been largely overlooked)?  Or, what is the role of a coach in teaching character, motivation, and lifetime enjoyment of exercise to his or her athletes?
  2. Students require a high level of accountability and personalized assessment.  Using online assessments is the quickest way to give students frequent formative assessment on a particular task.  Online assessments can also guide students towards core concepts and improve their questions during classroom time.
  3. Students need opportunities to engage in higher-order thinking by applying learned concepts.  The majority of classroom “face to face” time should be spent doing activities that allow students to apply course knowledge.
  4. However, students cannot engage in effective face-to-face application of knowledge activities if they have not yet assimilated core knowledge related to the subject.  My teaching strives to strike a balance between knowledge acquisition and subsequent application.  I keep lectures brief, and punctuate them with discussion and problem-solving activities.  I believe that in an 80-minute class, students should ideally engage in about 4 different “mini-lessons” — such as a 20 minute lecture, followed by a 20-minute problem-solving session.
  5. A good lecture involves strong preparation, effective visual aids, opportunities for questions and discussion, and check-points where students stop and complete small formative assessment pieces (like a three question quiz, or a one-minute paper).  I do not use Power Point extensively, and when I do, I like to use presentations that are largely photos only — like an old fashioned slideshow.  I am also fond of Prezi, because I believe it provides a spatial model of learning (as opposed to a linear model), where you can see how concepts inter-relate.

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to guide test creation

 

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One thought on “Teaching

  1. A couple thoughts-

    1. Instruction is not the opposite of autonomy. you can give students complete autonomy and still offer them plenty of instruction on how to complete a task. Autonomy is undermined when you give instructions (directions?) before cultivating/identifying a sense of meaning and purpose.

    2. Is holding students accountable/personalized assessment autonomy supportive?

    Also, how did you get all the share buttons in there at the bottom?

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