I’ve had plenty of students criticize my teaching over the years, but no one has ever accused me of lecturing in a monotone voice. On the other hand, this is a common complaint I’ve heard about other instructors including a colleague who approached me the other day for advice on what he could do about it. I had no idea, but I did know this was a perfect question for the POD mailing list! If you’re a college teacher and you’ve never heard of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education, you are really missing out on some great discussion of teaching in higher ed, and a community of folks who both know a lot and really care.
Before he retired in Spring of 2015, John Bryan Starr taught two of the most highly regarded classes at Yale about the politics and policy surrounding public schools in the United States. These classes had a unique structure where students read and discussed the material outside class in small groups and continued their discussions in the classroom. In the words of one of his students, “You could just trust upon entering class every week that you were guaranteed a profound learning experience in those two hours.” In this episode of the Teach Better Podcast, John Starr shares his secrets.
This spring one of the best teachers in our department, Steve Berry, won the Lex Hixon ’63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences. He won because he does a great job with one of our hardest classes to teach: Introductory Microeconomics. This big (300-400 student) lecture serves a wide range of students. Some have strong math backgrounds and are planning to major in economics, while others are just there because they think it’s important to learn something about how the economy works. Steve appeals to this diverse group with a combination of engaging lectures and well-designed problem sets. He gets positive course evaluations and a large fraction of the class goes on to take more advanced economics courses.
Professor Lynne Regan from Yale’s Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry believes in the power of active learning. In this episode she shares what she’s learned incorporating active learning exercises into her classes.
If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you understand that I don’t have all the answers. I often write about things as I learn them. That’s especially true today as I try to implement group projects in one of my classes. This is something I’ve had mixed success with in the distant past, but for a variety of reasons, I’m giving them another try.
Professor Craig Wright has been teaching an introductory course on classical music for as long as he can remember. It started as a traditional lecture course, became an active in-person lecture course, and four years ago he taught it in Yale Summer Session as a Small Private Online Course (SPOC). In the spring Craig transformed the course yet again, this time into a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Craig shares his journey with us on this episode of the Teach Better Podcast.
Carla Horwitz spends her time teaching undergraduates about child development and directing one of the nation’s premiere early child care centers: the Calvin Hill Day Care Center and Kitty Lustman-Findling Kindergarten. In our conversation we talk about how these two jobs overlap, the importance of quality early education, and how college classrooms should be places for creativity and play.
In this episode, we reflect back to identify eight habits which almost all of our guests have used to teach effectively. If you’re new to the podcast, this is a great place to start since it’s filled with our favorite quotes from earlier episodes.
For every teacher out there doing cool things in the classroom and blogging about it, there must be another hundred doing great work and not shouting it from the rooftops. Julia Kregenow from the Penn State Astronomy and Astrophysics Department is one of those people. She thinks deeply about teaching and has taught a wide range of classes in astronomy, math, and physics including several geared toward freshmen. I love how she has reasons for every choice she makes, and explains these choices to her students. Today, Julia is letting me share excerpts from a recent syllabus where she does exactly this.