Why do you teach what you teach? Why should students study what you teach? How do you help them see that? To answer this for my own discipline, I’ve been researching recent apologias for literature, defenses of reading or teaching literature written since, say, around the turn of the century.
Students face strong motivations to skip or skim readings. In courses where reading is integral to the intellectual work of the discipline, that severely undermines learning. How can we get students to read and read well? In this post, I share some scenarios worth pondering and a link to an article I’ve written on teaching critical, contemplative, and active reading.
Gerald Nelms explains how student plagiarism is very often less of a cut-and-dried crime than it appears. Research shows that successfully avoiding plagiarism—while also paraphrasing and integrating material from sources—requires complex skills that take time and practice to develop. We can see instances of plagiarism as opportunities to help students learn these skills.
Linda B. Nilson presents six recently published books (2010-2014) that capture what she considers the latest and most important developments and trends in college teaching and learning, relating to technology, the science of learning, and the lives of today’s college students.
Students write. We comment. Nancy Sommers can help us do so more thoughtfully and skillfully. Her new book continues the work of her landmark essay on responding to student writing. Her new rule? When we comment, we should focus on the students, not just the writing, and we should only try to “teach one lesson” at a time.
Teachers may romanticize or villainize students based on conjecture, personal experience, and anecdotal observations. But for the most part we remain in the dark about what students actually do and want. In My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2005), Rebekah Nathan moves us beyond speculation and gives us a useful portrait of college students’ lives, reporting on her observations during a year-long “undercover” anthropological study of college culture. This portrait includes bad news, good news, and an overall more complex and informed way of understanding students.
In “Student Engagement and Learning,” Jillian Kinzie presents an overview of the current research on student engagement and learning. She concludes that when students are engaged, they are usually learning—and vice versa. In other words, “Engaging pedagogies matter . . .” (p. 151).