Thursday, March 5, 2015

Principles of Effective College Teaching

Last year I had the privilege of visiting Madison, Wisconsin to record an online course on Principles of Effective College Teaching for Magna Publications (publisher of many helpful resources for higher education faculty, including Faculty Focus and the Teaching Professor).  This was one of the most pleasant work weeks of my life, not least because nothing beats hanging around Madison during the summer.  After we finished recording every day I had the opportunity to jog or bike around the lakes, hang out at the student union, or browse the bookstores downtown.  Can't get much better than that.
View from the University of Wisconsin Student Union

Designing, preparing, and recording this course gave me the chance to take the research on effective teaching for new faculty that I had conducted for my book On Course and supplement it with the research on teaching and learning that I have been doing for my forthcoming book.  The course consists of three major units, along with an introduction and conclusion.  Each unit of the course comes complete with three video mini-lectures, suggested readings, handouts, worksheets, and learning checks.  The three units cover "Framing the Course" (course design), "Learning in the Classroom" (the mechanics of day-to-day teaching), and "Feedback and Evaluation" (for both students and faculty).  I had great fun filming the videos, and I hope it shows.

The course provides an ideal opportunity for graduate student teachers and new faculty to get quickly up to speed on some basic principles of learning theory and its implications for college teachers, as well as to prepare themselves practically for college teaching.  Early-career faculty who haven't done much reading in the literature of teaching and learning in higher education will also benefit from some of the resources and ideas in the course.  Finally, and most importantly, I envisioned the course as especially helpful to the many adjunct faculty in the US and abroad who are thrown into classrooms without much support or training of any kind.  This course should provide new or early-career adjuncts with the fundamentals they need to help their students learn--and to have a more enjoyable and satisfying experience as a new(-ish) teacher.

If you take the course and have feedback, please feel free to drop me a line with comments, questions, suggestions, etc.  I'm happy to hear from you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Small Teaching!

So happy to announce that I finished the first draft of my new book, Small Teaching: From Minor Changes to Major Learning, on Monday of this week.  (Pictured: my wife and I celebrating this momentous event, and her school having a snow day, with a day of skiing.)

The book looks at recent research on learning from a variety of disciplines--cognitive psychology, education, neuroscience--and makes the case that we are actually doing a lot of things right in higher education teaching and learning--but that some small changes we can make to any type of course environment have the power to really boost student learning.  The book has pushed and driven my reading farther afield than usual, but it has led me into some fascinating new places in my own development as a teacher and I hope it will do the same for readers.  Although the book speaks most directly to college and university teachers, the basic "small teaching" approach will translate into any educational level, and I hope the writing and examples are accessible enough to open the book up to teachers everywhere.

I am going to take a week away from it as I travel to Hungary next week to give some workshops at Central European University, and then it will be a few weeks of revising, formatting, filling out the notes and so forth.  My drop-dead deadline is March 16th, which means I hope to have a very happy St. Patrick's Day celebration the next day.

Assuming that both I and the publisher stay on track, Small Teaching will be published by Jossey-Bass in early 2016. Can't wait!