There might be a fair amount of debate about the best way to get students engaged in a large lecture course, but I think even the most traditional lecturer knows that disengaged students don’t get much out of a class. Back in March I traveled to University College London and gave a talk for their Centre for Teaching and Learning Economics about all the ways I know to get students active and at least paying attention during a lecture.
I’ve been to economics conferences before. When you meet someone new, the first question is almost always “What are you working on?” The Conference on Teaching and Research in Economics Education (CTREE) is fundamentally different. Over my three days in Atlanta, almost every conversation I had started with “What do you teach?”
Our guest is Julia Stephens from the Yale History Department and South Asian Studies Program. Julia both teaches and writes about South Asia, Islam, colonialism, family, the law and the Indian diaspora. In just two years at Yale she has built a reputation among the students for being a dynamic and effective lecturer. Julia succeeds by being creative, being open-minded, and most important, being herself.
Never content to leave well enough alone, I’m using a raft of bleeding edge technology this summer as I teach online. I’ve already got the bumps and bruises to prove it, but I’m also so close to distance teaching nirvana I can taste it.
Bonni Stachowiak teaches courses in business, marketing, leadership, and human resources at Vanguard University of Southern California where many of her students are freshmen. In this episode she talks with us about the issues and opportunities involved with teaching first year students. Bonni also hosts her own podcast, Teaching in Higher Ed, and shares some stories from behind the scenes.
Research shows that students invest more and retain more when they care about what you are teaching them. If you can do this at an individual level and connect what you’re doing to something in a particular student’s life, it can make all the difference.
Matt Croasmun directs the Life Worth Living Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, and teaches a course with the same name in Yale College. Started by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz, the course helps students engage with a big important question: What is a good life? In an especially wide ranging conversation, we talk with Matt about possible answers, how to go about finding an answer, and the nuts and bolts of teaching such an ambitious class.
Our guest is Michael Faison from the Yale Department of Astronomy. He teaches undergraduate classes that range from the search for extraterrestrial life to advanced radio astronomy, and he directs the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium where he often hosts classes. Outside Yale, he gives public lectures about astronomy, astrology, and the difference between the two. In this episode we talk about the advantages of teaching outside a traditional classroom, thinking creatively about what happens during class time, and how he handles students with very different backgrounds in science and math.