I explained in the last article that pedagogy has to do with ‘the art of teaching’, the capacity of the educator to transfer knowledge and skills in such ways that enable students to understand, recollect, deliberate and apply.
The UCCI Academic Standards Document points out that ‘in the academic enterprise, the methods employed to teach students is of singular importance in determining outcomes. The purpose of education is to prepare the student to think, to adapt, to be creative, to sharpen their minds, heighten their imagination and deepen their understanding, and the methods employed by the educator are beyond question, critical.
Academic standards are the benchmark of excellence and quality and the assurance to various stakeholders of the basis of accountability. The local university, UCCI, correctly believes that student centredness is the linchpin, the connecting principle, the common core around which all activities, plans and ideas cohere. In this respect, one of the things it has done is explicitly state the standards to which it aspires.
This article presents extracts from this document that covers standards concerning teaching strategies. Emphasis is placed on the use of what the literature calls ‘High impact teaching strategies’. These are ten teaching practices accepted as very effective in the classroom. The last article covered questioning, feedback, metacognitive strategies, differentiated learning and common intellectual experiences. I further quote from this document.
‘High Impact Teaching Strategies
‘Each UCCI faculty members will use at least two high-impact teaching strategies in the classroom. High impact teaching strategies (HITS) are ten instructional practices that reliably increase student learning when they are applied. The Teaching, Learning and Assessment Coordinator (TLA) will reinforce the knowledge of these in TLA sessions and encourage their use by faculty members.
The key goals for learning communities are to encourage integration of learning across courses and to involve students with “big questions” that matter beyond the classroom. Students take two or more linked courses as a group and work closely with one another and with their professors. Many learning communities explore a common topic and/or common readings through the lenses of different disciplines. Some deliberately link “liberal arts” and “professional courses”; others feature service learning.
These courses emphasize writing at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum, including final-year projects. Students are encouraged to produce and revise various forms of writing for different audiences in different disciplines. The effectiveness of this repeated practice “across the curriculum” has led to parallel efforts in such areas as quantitative reasoning, oral communication, information literacy, and, on some campuses, ethical inquiry.
‘Collaborative Assignments and Projects
Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research.
Many colleges and universities are now providing research experiences for students in all disciplines. Undergraduate research, however, has been most prominently used in science disciplines. With strong support from the National Science Foundation and the research community, scientists are reshaping their courses to connect key concepts and questions with students’ early and active involvement in systematic investigation and research. The goal is to involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions.
Many colleges and universities now emphasize courses and programs that help students explore cultures, life experiences, and worldviews different from their own. These studies—which may address diversity, world cultures, or both—often explore “difficult differences” such as racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or continuing struggles around the globe for human rights, freedom, and power. Frequently, intercultural studies are augmented by experiential learning in the community and/or by study abroad.
ePortfolios enable students to electronically collect their work over time, reflect upon their personal and academic growth, and then share selected items with others, such as professors, advisors, and potential employers. Because collection over time is a key element of the ePortfolio process, employing ePortfolios in collaboration with other high-impact practices provides opportunities for students to make connections between various educational experiences.
‘Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
In these programs, field-based “experiential learning” with community partners is an instructional strategy—and often a required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students must both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life.
Internships are another increasingly common form of experiential learning. The idea is to provide students with direct experience in a work setting—usually related to their career interests—and to give them the benefit of supervision and coaching from professionals in the field. If the internship is taken for course credit, students complete a project or paper that is approved by a faculty member.
‘Capstone Courses and Projects
Whether they are called “senior capstones” or some other name, these culminating experiences require students nearing the end of their college years to create a project of some sort that integrates and applies what they’ve learned. The project might be a research paper, a performance, a portfolio of “best work,” or an exhibit of artwork. Capstones are offered both in departmental programs and, increasingly, in general education as well.’
In the next article we continue to share extracts from this important document.