September

The Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning has an excellent email newsletter for professional development with respect to, as the name indicates, teaching and learning. These articles can also be discussed at Tomorrow's Professor Blog. Here's an example of their newsletters (the most recent emailing) titled The Ten Worst Teaching Mistakes, which are:

  1. When you ask a question in class, immediately call for volunteers.
  2. Call on students cold.
  3. Turn classes into PowerPoint shows.
  4. Fail to provide variety in instruction.
  5. Have students work in groups with no individual accountability.
  6. Fail to establish relevance.
  7. Give tests that are too long.
  8. Get stuck in a rut.
  9. Teach without clear learning objectives
  10. Disrespect students.

The newsletter is somewhat brief with each item receiving a 1-3 paragraph explanation of the item. For instance, on disrespecting students, it states,

How much students learn in a course depends to a great extent on the instructor's attitude. Two different instructors could teach the same material to the same group of students using the same methods, give identical exams, and get dramatically different results. Under one teacher, the students might get good grades and give high ratings to the course and instructor; under the other teacher, the grades could be low, the ratings could be abysmal, and if the course is a gateway to the curriculum, many of the students might not be there next semester. The difference between the students' performance in the two classes could easily stem from the instructors' attitudes. If Instructor A conveys respect for the students and a sense that he/she cares about their learning and Instructor B appears indifferent and/or disrespectful, the differences in exam grades and ratings should come as no surprise.

Even if you genuinely respect and care about your students, you can unintentionally give them the opposite sense. Here are several ways to do it: (1) Make sarcastic remarks in class about their skills, intelligence, and work ethics; (2) disparage their questions or their responses to your questions; (3) give the impression that you are in front of them because it's your job, not because you like the subject and enjoy teaching it; (4) frequently come to class unprepared, run overtime, and cancel classes; (5) don't show up for office hours, or show up but act annoyed when students come in with questions. If you've slipped into any of those practices, try to drop them. If you give students a sense that you don't respect them, the class will probably be a bad experience for everyone no matter what else you do, while if you clearly convey respect and caring, it will cover a multitude of pedagogical sins you might commit.

The article also gives references for further reading, most of which can be found online:

  1. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, "Learning by Doing," Chem. Engr. Education, 37(4), 282-283 (2003), http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Columns/Active.pdf.
  2. M. Prince, "Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research," J. Engr. Education, 93(3), 223-231 (2004), http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Papers/Prince_AL.pdf.
  3. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, "Death by PowerPoint," Chem. Engr. Education, 39(1), 28-29 (2005), http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Columns/PowerPoint.pdf.
  4. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, "Cooperative Learning," in P.A. Mabrouk, ed., Active Learning: Models from the Analytical Sciences, ACS Symposium Series 970, Chapter 4. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society, 2007, http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Papers/CLChapter.pdf.
  5. CATME (Comprehensive Assessment of Team Member Effectiveness), http://www.catme.org.
  6. M.J. Prince and R.M. Felder, "Inductive Teaching and Learning Methods: Definitions, Comparisons, and Research Bases," J. Engr. Education, 95(2), 123-138 (2006), http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Papers/InductiveTeaching.pdf.
  7. R.M. Felder, "Sermons for Grumpy Campers," Chem. Engr. Education, 41(3), 183-184 (2007), http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Columns/Sermons.pdf.
  8. P.A. Cohen, "College Grades and Adult Achievement: A Research Synthesis," Res. in Higher Ed., 20(3), 281-293 (1984); G.E. Samson, M.E. Graue, T. Weinstein, & H.J. Walberg, "Academic and Occupational Performance: A Quantitative Synthesis," Am. Educ. Res. Journal, 221(2), 311-321 (1984).
  9. E. Seymour & N.M. Hewitt, Talking about Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.
  10. R.M. Felder, "Designing Tests to Maximize Learning," J. Prof. Issues in Engr. Education and Practice, 128(1), 1-3 (2002). http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Papers/TestingTips.htm.
  11. R.M. Felder & R. Brent, "Objectively Speaking," Chem. Engr. Education, 31(3), 178-179 (1997), http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Columns/Objectives.html.

All in all, this newsletter is a great resource for teachers.