Teaching Undergraduates

Teaching Undergraduates

Teaching Undergraduates

Teaching Undergraduates

Synopsis

This practical guide is designed to help college teachers plan their undergraduate courses and deliver high-quality instruction. The book's theme is that teaching is a creative, decision-making, idea-testing enterprise whose purpose is to facilitate student learning in all of its facets. Its goal is to help instructors understand the multiple kinds of learning taking place in their courses so that they can select, devise, evaluate, and modify teaching techniques to improve their effectiveness. Based on research on human learning, memory, thinking, and problem solving, as well as studies of teaching and less-formal reports of teaching practices, the book offers concrete advice about all aspects of college teaching. *Part I is devoted to course planning. It outlines the many decisions instructors face in defining a course as their own and discusses the larger issues that shape a course and constrain some specific choices. Selecting course content, choosing learning goals, deciding how to pace a course, and scheduling tests are some of these issues. A workable timetable for preparing a course is included. *Part II is a mini-course on human learning, memory, and thinking. It provides the conceptual foundation for making teaching decisions, for selecting instructional strategies, and especially for inventing new techniques that might particularly fit a specific course. *Part III deals with the "nitty-gritty" of college teaching, including how to choose a textbook; lecturing and conducting classroom discussions; types and purposes of writing assignments, and how to structure and evaluate them; dealing with plagiarism; strengths and weaknesses of different types of tests, the relation of tests to learning goals, and guidelines for constructing good tests; and grading systems. *Part IV addresses professional and ethical issues of importance and consequence to instructors. New college instructors, more experienced faculty who would like to reflect on their teaching practices and consider making some changes, and teaching assistants will all find this book relevant and useful.

Excerpt

This book is intended to help college teachers plan their undergraduate courses and deliver high-quality instruction. It is based on research on human learning, memory, thinking, and problem solving as well as studies of teaching and less-formal reports of teaching practices. The book offers practical advice about all aspects of college teaching, from textbook selection through lecturing, test construction, and writing assignments to grading policies and socializing with students. The theme of the book is that teaching is a creative, decision-making, idea-testing enterprise whose purpose is to facilitate student learning in all of its facets. My goal is to help instructors understand the multiple kinds of learning taking place in their courses so that they can select, modify, and invent techniques to teach effectively.

New college instructors are the primary audience for this book, whether they are advanced graduate students about to teach for the first time or new faculty members coping with the demands of their jobs. The book can also be useful to more experienced faculty who would like to reflect on their teaching practices and consider the possibility of making some changes. Much of the material is quite relevant to the tasks of teaching assistants even though they often lack control over the choice of topics and reading materials. Likewise, the ideas are pertinent to teaching graduate courses until the format becomes joint exploration of a topic by near-equals.

The book arises from a course on teaching that I offered for two decades to advanced graduate students in psychology, just prior to their teaching a course for the first time. Over the years, my notes on teaching evolved, decidedly influenced by our discussions of teaching issues. The course was quite successful, based on the student-teachers' comments and their students' very positive reactions to their teaching efforts. I have tried to capture the substance of that course in this book. It's important to point out that psychology includes a wide variety of undergraduate courses—biopsychology, statistics, personality, history of psychology, laboratory courses, and others. This book concerns issues and ideas that are relevant to teaching courses of different types, in any discipline.

OVERVIEW

The book is divided into four parts. Part I contains just Chapter 1, on course planning. This chapter outlines the many decisions instructors face in defining courses as “theirs” and discusses the larger issues that shape a course and . . .

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