Reflections on Teaching

first day of class

We Begin Again . . .

I’ve been retired, as in not teaching undergraduates, for almost a decade now. I miss the students. I miss some of my colleagues. But what I miss most is the beginning of the school year. It’s a new start—new students, sometimes new content, a few

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Faculty: Getting in the Way of Learning

Students can disrupt a class—most of us have experienced that firsthand—but so can teachers. Teacher misbehaviors can also be disruptive. They can get in the way of learning. Sometimes these teacher behaviors are unintentional. Sometimes they are misunderstood by students. Sometimes teachers are tired and

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Learning Doesn’t End Just Because the Class Does

Some professions offer a greater sense of closure than teaching. Take plumbing, for example. Plumbing problems are hard to miss and not always easy to fix, but once the PVC has been replaced, the flux applied, and the water is back on, the plumber knows

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Making Changes: How Faculty Do It

The process of making instructional changes has not been studied much at all—perhaps because it seems like a simple process. We discover a new idea, are persuaded it’s something worthwhile, think it’s doable, and we do it! But if that’s all that’s involved, then how

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Too Much Jargon: A Barrier to Learning?

The language of our disciplines is complex—it has to be. What we study is specific and detailed, and it needs to be described with language that precisely captures essence and nuance. However, for students being introduced to our disciplines for the first time, it’s all

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professor writing on board

Why Are We So Slow to Change the Way We Teach?

Some thoughts about change—not so much what to change, as the process of change, offered in light of its slow occurrence.

Yes, lecture is a good example. In a recent survey, 275 econ faculty who teach principles courses reported they lectured 70 percent of the

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Six Things I Learned About First-Year College Students

As a tenured full professor, I’m mostly scheduled for upper division and graduate courses. However, last year I taught two classes of traditional aged, first-year students. It was a good learning experience and provided me with new insights about beginning college students.

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Are We Thinking as Developmentally as We Should?

Individual courses and degree programs give us the opportunity to move students along a developmental continuum. Content complexity grows across course sequences, as does student understanding of it. But are students growing as learners in the same way? Are we designing learning experiences so that

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A Powerful Question Set

Nothing works quite as well as a good question when it comes to getting the intellectual muscles moving. Given the daily demands of most academic positions, there’s not much time that can be devoted to reflection about teaching. But good questions are useful because they

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