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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Writing objectives and questions using Bloom’s Taxonomy (UNC Charlotte – Center for Teaching and Learning)
- How to write better tests (University of Indiana)