Teaching & learning ideas

Here are several documents that provide some background on fundamental learning and how that can translate into effective course design. Many are self-explanatory, but a few are notes taken from my psychology of learning course offered through our masters program and might need some additional comment to make sense–just let me know. You also may not agree with parts of this at first read, but allow yourself to think about it for awhile…once you let go of how school is supposed to operate, you can more easily see how it can operate.

Send me other sources and information that you think pertinent. All of these files are PDF format unless otherwise indicated.

Learning Concepts

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. An excellent starter for understanding learning, expert/novice differences, transfer, and instructional application. Book is available for purchase, but entire text can be accessed online.

How people learn

Learning process flowchart (jpg)

Thoughts about learning

Eight principles for effective, higher level learning

A reflection article on learning issues in higher education.

A funny, but very serious account of a cognitive psychologist attempting to take an AP exam in psychology. Tells us a lot about the types of information we focus on and whether it really matters or not.

USA Today describes a survey of national employers who overwhelmingly agree colleges are focused too much on tests and scores, and not enough on real-life skills.

Designing Courses

Concepts for developing instruction, including basic learning principles.

Designing a course, step-by-step.

Course design flowchart based on the learning process (jpg)

A not-so-exaggerated example of how instructors might approach a new course

The same approach with explanation as to what doesn’t work

A better approach to designing a new course

A typical course topic outline (one that I used once upon a time).

A better approach to organizing course topics (one that I use now).

Collaborative learning, project/problem based learning. These approaches greatly enhance critical thinking, problem solving, and applying knowledge to real situations.

Suggestions to help you teach your class

Suggestions for the first day of class

Assessing class progress during the semester

Some thoughts on rubrics

Sample rubric for assessing student performance. This one is actually designed in a database, allowing for easy entry of comments as well as archiving for portfolios, assessment data, etc

Facilitating Discussion In Class. This was the handout for a CETL session where we discussed various issues, ideas, and failures in generating an engaging discussion.

Twenty ways to make lectures more participatory. This article comes from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University.


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