Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
Active Learning, particularly when it contains a strong student peer-to-peer teaching component, has come a long way since the turn of the century. I agree with others who think that it has reached a tipping point in terms of showing demonstrable, better learning outcomes in undergraduate STEM fields. Below is an introduction to a major paper that describes the progress in this regard. It is by Carl Wieman, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1998, and a Professor of Physics and Professor of Education at Stanford University, and is published in Daedalus, 148:4, Fall 2019, p. 47-78. The link to the paper can be found at: https://doi.org/10.1162/DAED_a_01760[E1] He is the author of Improving How Universities Teach Science: Lessons from the Science Education Initiative (2017) and has recently published in such journals as Journal of Educational Psychology, Physical Review Physics Education Research, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education. © 2019 by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.
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Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
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Expertise in University Teaching & the Implications for Teaching Effectiveness, Evaluation & Training
Universities face the challenge of how to teach students more complex thinking and problem-solving skills than were widely needed in the past, and how to teach these to a much larger and more diverse student body. Research advances in learning and teaching over the past few decades provide a way to meet these challenges. These advances have established expertise in university teaching: a set of skills and knowledge that consistently achieve better learning outcomes than the traditional and still predominant teaching methods practiced by most faculty. Widespread recognition and adoption of these expert practices will profoundly change the nature of university teaching and have a large beneficial impact on higher education.
University teaching is in the early stages of a historic transition, changing from an individual folk art to a field with established expertise, much as medicine did 150 years ago. What is bringing about this transition, and what can we expect of it? To answer, I start with the nature of expertise and how it applies to the context of academic disciplines. In particular, I discuss how such expertise defines disciplines and how research and other scholarly work plays an essential role in establishing disciplinary expertise. Then I show how recent research has established expertise in university teaching: a set of instructional practices that achieve better student outcomes than traditional teaching methods. These advances also illustrate the essential role that disciplinary expertise has in effective university teaching and provide perhaps the best justification for the research university as an educational institution. However, while disciplinary expertise is a necessary part of good university teaching, it is far from sufficient: there are many other elements of teaching expertise. I conclude by arguing that the widespread recognition of expertise in university teaching will improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of teaching by making it a more collective and coherent endeavor with better-defined standards for evaluation and training.
© 2019 by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license https://doi.org/10.1162/DAED_a_01760