Learning Psychology: Embracing Better Ways to Teach

Interesting piece from Wired about many higher education folks’ lack of pedagogical training and the importance of same. An excerpt:

Educational theory, cognitive psychology, flipped learning, service learning, and other innovations represent years of study, theory, and thought about “better ways” to teach and learn. Yet, if you talk to most academics, these conceptual / philosophical / researched pieces of the profession are often ignored for a variety of reasons.

For some, it’s simply not a filter. Everyone knows that the vast majority of Higher Education instructors have never had a course on Teaching and Learning or Education Theory. And most K-12 teachers had only one or two of these courses. The assumptions that a person can teach solely because they are an expert, solely because they have a “heart” for students, or that 1-2 semesters can possibly cover what should be a lifelong pursuit of framing is near-sighted at best!


Finally, for some I wonder if they even know where to start looking. A world-renowned professor at an Ivy League school — the kind of guy who is always the smartest in the room, regardless of the room… — said something during a meeting that shocked me.  He had just produced a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) and was reflecting on the experience. I’m paraphrasing as I didn’t have a recording device, but basically he said, “Did you know that lecture is not the best way to teach students? Apparently a lot of research shows it is actually even harmful. But, we had to go with it since it’s all I’ve ever done and we didn’t have time to figure anything else out for the MOOC.” This professor of 35+ years had no idea that researchers and theorists have found other, better ways to present information than lecturing.

I remember an interesting moment while I was a graduate student at UNC where, during a course on Educational Leadership that consisted of me and … about 10 high school principals, I’d said that most people in higher education have little to no training in formal pedagogy and they were completely shocked by this. “You mean they just get up and … teach? With like … no formal training in how to … do that?” seemed to be the general sentiment.

Graduate institutions certainly vary on how much time their programs devote to teacher training for future academics. I think this once again illustrates the opportunity for librarians with a background in pedagogy, and how they can demonstrate their value by providing interesting solutions to problems faculty face in the classroom.


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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel

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