“Teaching can get in the way of learning.” – Doc Meek

Saturday, October 27, 2012: Today I am grateful for those who jog our minds about how we learn (and teach)! – Doc Meek

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Text below was posted in: TENNESSEE TEACHING AND LEARNING CENTER BLOG on June 13, 2012.

LINK: http://tenntlc.utk.edu/2012/06/13/what-works-in-student-learning-and-what-gets-in-the-way-teaching-the-chronicle-of-higher-education/

What Works in Student Learning, and

What Gets in the Way – Teaching –

The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle reviewed a recent conference on student learning, sponsored by the Teagle Foundation,  What Works in Student Learning, and What Gets in the Way – Teaching – The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Attendants considered the state of student learning in higher education.

Among their suggestions: Students should be active in constructing their own learning, and activities should stimulate not just their intellects but their emotions.

As often happens, the comments are as interesting as the article.  Among the comments are questions serving students with disabilities as well as a bit of debate about “learning” versus “teaching.”  A large amount of comments point out that what was said at the conference has been well-established and said before.

This is true.  However, we who are currently teaching in higher education are at different stages–and with different training to support our skills at teaching.  New assistant professors may or may not have had graduate training in teaching and learning theories and in pedagogical practice.  There is some interesting research (and hopefully there will be more) that shows the more professors know teaching and learning principles and understand student learning, the more successful they are at evaluating and improving their courses (Milton & Lyons, 2003).

For new professors, the amount of teacher preparation is changing as more universities establish graduate teaching certification programs.  These programs allow those students who are not in departments that traditionally provide a lot of support (graduate students in Language and English programs, for instance, teach a lot and usually are provided with a lot of training by their home departments).  For others, though, they may start their first job with no training or experience in teaching! For the rest of us, most midsize and large institutions have teaching and learning centers to provide ongoing support.

We in academia are slow to change (are you shocked by this statement?)  We honor traditions, yet the traditional lecture is slowly being replaced by “active lecturing” in which students get involved or by active learning in the classroom, in which the lecture is minimized or moved out of the in-class session entirely (as in the flipped classroom).   This movement to change our pedagogical practice is slow but follows decades of research on promoting student learning, as the conference participants noted.

Finally, our students have changed (again, not a shock to point this out).  They have changed in response to our culture and cultural priorities, our uses of technology, our economy, and other changes in the West (I want to be careful to distinguish between a U.S. university and those in developing countries).

Much of our professional lives have remained the same–we balance research and teaching and service, in proportions dependent on our type of school.  For some of us, our teaching in and of itself has not changed.  However, job security has lessened, demands on our time have increased, student expectations have changed, and public expectations have increased.  However we address these issues, we must remind our stakeholders that we are teaching always the new generation.  What will our culture do to support our mission in higher ed?

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Thank you, TENNESSEE TEACHING AND LEARNING CENTER at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for teaching us how to teach better!

Doc Meek, Sat, Oct 27, 2012, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

“What if you are smarter than you think?”

J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)
Trusted Learning/Teaching Guide
[“Everyone” says: “Fun to work with.”]
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