James Korn and Jason Sikorski have released a guidebook for beginning teachers of Psychology. The electronic version was just posted this month on the STP website.
Table of Contents
2. Developing Your Philosophy of Teaching
3. Planning A Course: Philosophy becomes Practice
4. Lectures ‘n Stuff
5. Managing Class Discussions
6. Writing to Learn and Other Forms of Active Learning
7. Assessment and Grading
8. Evaluating Teaching
9. Values and Ethics
10. Developing Your Teaching Portfolio
11. Landing a Teaching Job
This morning I mentioned that a reading of Ernest Boyer’s Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate might lead one to a somewhat different sense of the term “scholarship of teaching” than is current in the literature. I frequently encounter the term used to indicate that teachers should do research on the success or failure of the teaching strategies they employ. On the other hand, I think Boyer was referring to the idea that teaching is itself a scholarly activity, that one learns and expands one’s conceptual structures by engaging in teaching. Boyer makes the same point about the gains that come from engaging in the scholarship of discovery research, of integration and of application. The Boyer book is available in Scott Library (LA 227.3 B694 1990) and a brief, but informative, discussion of a portion of it can be found here.
Ramsden points (pp 221-222) to the “Course Experience Questionnaire” as a good tool for assessing the quality of teaching from the point of view of students’ experiences. The questions used in the survey are available here. I think these could easily be adapted for any course as a means of evaluating whether one’s students are experiencing the course in the ways most likely to lead to deep learning.
This week we briefly discussed the Teaching Practicum offered by York’s Centre for the Support of Teaching. The UTAL course satisfies some, but not all, of the requirements of this program. For a full description of the practicum and its requirements, go to this page of the CST website.
David Baume, author of two of the items assigned for today’s class, was at York just a few weeks ago to lead a workshop for York Department administrators on the construction of learning outcomes for Department level programmes. You are likely to hear a lot more about efforts of this sort in the future as governments across the world are putting pressure on universities to specify the outcomes students can expect to achieve by completing any particular degree. The push seems to be based on two factors – one, an idea that universities should be more accountable with respect to the benefits they provide in relation to the public’s financial investment, and two, an idea that universities should be offering comparable programmes that make it easy for students to move from one university to another in pursuit of their degrees.
In Ontario universities the acronym UUDLEs is heard increasingly in this context; it stands for university undergraduate degree level expectations. You can read more about the Ontario project here. One of York’s Associate VPs Academic is a staunch supporter of this initiative and you can read his account of the workshop Baume led here.
Many faculty members asked to specify learning outcomes for their courses or programmes fear that this initiative is simply a first step in homogenizing offerings and making it easier for governments to apply a simple-minded system of comparing instructors, courses, degrees or universities with respect to which ones are worthy of funding. In 2006 the Spellings Commission, convened by the US Department of Education, released a report pushing universities to specify and evaluate the attainment of learning outcomes. For a sense of the controversy surrounding the Commission’s efforts see this article from Inside Higher Education. A long list of related articles can be found here.
I mentioned York’s Department of Political Science today as a unit that has developed a set of goals to guide their work that seem to actually capture something meaningful. If you would like to look at these goals more closely, you will find them on the Department’s Undergraduate Program webpage. Perhaps there is no significance to the order, but I find it interesting that the Department’s goals with respect to Critical Skills are described ahead of those for Political Analysis and Democratic Awareness. Another program that seems to have given a good deal of thought to describing their philosophy and goals is the School of Nursing.
I also mentioned in the class that the course goals which I placed on the UTAL 5000 Syllabus were adapted from those of one of my predecessors in directing the course. I had not yet read Ramsden’s chapter on goals when I made the revisions, so was working on my intuition as to what made sense as goals. You are welcome to have a look at the originals, compare them to my revision and then comment on whether you think I was moving in the right direction or not. I would also welcome comments on whether you think there are other goals implicit in what we have been doing that could be made explicit on the syllabus, as well as on whether there are goals that ought to be in the course but that have been missed out altogether. You will find the two sets of goals written out together here.
The On-line Course Design Tutorial developed by Barbara Tewksbuy and Heather Macdonald that I used in this morning’s class is available here. The specific page of the tutorial that we worked with in class is available here. Visiting this latter page would allow you to read more of the developers’ comments about the course goals we were looking at.
Today I came across a website devoted to the topic of Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement. It is a creation of the Faculty and TA Development Program at the Ohio State University and is embedded in a broader set of materials about creating and maintaining a teaching portfolio. The site contains links to a variety of teaching philosophy statements and to a guide for preparing a teaching philosophy statement that suggests several alternative ways of approaching the task. Click on the links above to go to the website or to the embedded link.
Discipline-specific articles on teaching
Last week I mentioned that I would post a list of disciplinary-based journals that publish articles on university teaching. The list I was thinking of is on page 50 of an article by Maryellen Weimer, and you can reach it by clicking on the title in the reference below. The article is dated so if you find that a particular journal listed is no longer published, please let me know. I would also appreciate hearing of any other relevant journals with which you may be familiar.
Weimer, M. (1993). The disciplinary journals on pedagogy. Change, 25(6), 44-51.
The reading for today included an item on Bloom’s Taxonomy and embedded in that piece is a link to a list of “verbs to use in assignments” similar to the list of “question cues” that I put on the screen in this morning’s class. To see the list I used in class, click here. Bernadette refers to another such list in her post on the Dialogue Forum for May 26 Response Papers. And here is yet one more that I have used for workshops on course design.
If you are looking for some additional guidance on the construction of a syllabus, review the Readings and Exercises page for May 12. I modified it today to include an additional set of materials with advice on this topic.
Ramsden, in Chapters 4 and 5 of his book, mentions the “Approaches to Studying Questionnaire” which he and others employ to assess the use of deep and surface approaches to learning and the conditions that promote each. If you are interested in seeing the questions themselves, you will find a short form of the questionnaire in the Appendix to this article:
Richardson, J. T. E. (1990). Reliability and replicabiity of the Approaches to Studying Questionnaire. Studies in Higher Education, 15, 155-168.