New links

I’ve been working on putting up some new links, especially on teaching and learning. Note especially The University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (Ohio State) which has some excellent resources:

A fabulous new link is from the Innovation League is called Getting Results:
This is a crash course in course creation targeted towards community college instructors, but the information is valuable for anyone, especially if you are interested in learning more about those buzz topics: learning outcomes, active learning and assessment.

I’ve created a new Rubrics category for links, and will add more in the future.


Things to Do Before Classes Start

Because so much time can be spent of preparing syllabi and lesson plans, a lot of practical things that are critical to a successful teaching and learning experience can often get overlooked. Here are a few items to take care of well before classes start:

• Get keys to the room(s) you will teach in, if necessary. ( I didn’t even think of this before my first day of teaching. Imagine my embarrassment when I couldn’t get into the room!)

• Order materials and supplies. Find out from the secretary or from other faculty in your area how this is done, and how it is paid for.

• Find out if there is lab/materials fee in your department. If so, how does it work? What do students pay for separate from any fee? What is paid for or supplied by the institution?

• Check out, clean and organize classroom or studio as needed.

• Upload course information on Blackboard or other similar site, if used by your institution. Be sure to make it available to students!

• Find out what the Add/Drop policies and procedures are at your institution, and any important deadlines related to that. Related to that are finding out what the maximum enrollment levels are for the class(es) you are teaching.

• Find out what policies your institution has for field trips. Some require students to complete a Field Trip Release form prior to going on an off-campus field trip.

• Find out how to access enrollment information for your class(es). The secretary should be able to provide you with this information.

• Find out how grading is recorded and submitted along with any deadlines at the the of the quarter/semester. Also look into the policy for awarding “Incomplete” grades.

Teacher Training Programs- MIT & Columbia University

The TA Strategy Kit at MIT and Columbia University

MIT and the Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) have partnered to produce an online learning environment to support novice teaching assistants. TASK, the TA Strategy Kit, is a web-based tool designed to help teaching assistants, new faculty, and novice instructors become better teachers.

TASK features short, annotated videos that model good teaching and effective interactions with students, allowing users to see concrete, practical techniques they can implement in the classroom immediately. Complementary text reinforces the points illustrated in the videos, discusses other effective strategies and tactics, and explores the theory and research that support the techniques suggested.

While access to this resource is restricted to members of the MIT and Columbia University communities, this approach is something that other institutions could consider for improving their teacher training in any field.

Syllabus for Teaching TAs How to Teach (Quarter version)

Any Fine Arts or Art History graduate student who wants to teach a class in the University of Cincinnati’s School of Art must successfully complete the “Graduate Teaching Workshop” course before receiving any teaching assignment. (This is true for TAs who assist a professor in the classroom, as well as for TAs who are assigned full responsibility for the teaching of a course.) This is the syllabus for that course.

Because UC is currently on the quarter system, this syllabus reflects a 10-week experience. When UC moves to semesters in the Fall of 2012, the syllabus will be revised to reflect a 14-week experience. In semesters, more time will be spent on pedagogical theory, guiding and evaluating group work, and how to effectively critique art work. I will post that updated syllabus in the Fall of 2012.

Source for and Usefulness of Learning Theories

Because of the lack of quality teacher training for new college professors, and of the limited amount of time spent on it where it exists, the importance of pedagogical theory tends to fade into invisibility. Being familiar with how people learn, however, can help inform the choices a teacher makes when in the classroom. Go to this site in order to find more theories that you will know what to do with.

In order to show you how useful this knowledge can be in the classroom, try doing the following exercise:

Pick three theories that interest you, and with which you would like to work.  Then, apply each of those theories to the teaching of ONE art-related concept. Describe how each theory would change the method by which you would teach that one concept or procedure to a class of Intro-level students.

The concept could be technical, as in “how these three theories can be applied to a demo on drawing with water-soluble materials on a lithography plate”, or aesthetic, as in “how these three theories can be used when discussing Post Modernism”, or conceptual, as in “how these three theories can be used to teach the concept of scale”.

Write one full page (300 words minimum) for each of the three theories (total of 3 pages).  For each page, first describe your understanding of the theory, and then show how you would apply it to that one specific thing to be taught.  (The theories will differ, but the concept or procedure to be taught remains the same each time.) Each essay can be a stand-alone; they do not need to flow from one to the other.

Then sit back and marvel at how much overlap there is, how much of this you already “knew” on some level, but how much more aware of it you will be when in the classroom with your students!

Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

The following points were devised by Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson, and serve as an excellent guide to forming best teaching practices in higher education. You can find their article here.

Good practice in undergraduate education:

1. Encourages student-faculty contact focused on the academic agenda.

2. Develops cooperation among students by teaching them to work productively with others.

3. Encourages active learning such as thinking, doing, and thinking about what they are doing.

4. Gives prompt feedback and helps students figure out what to do in response.

5. Emphasizes time on task and provides lots of useful, productive, guided practice.

6. Communicates high expectations and encourages students to have high self-expectations.

7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning, and encourages respect for intellectual diversity.

Teacher Training Programs- University of Cincinnati’s PFF Program

The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program at the University of Cincinnati is one in which graduate students in terminal degree programs (i.e. PhD and MFA) can get training and mentoring, do student teaching, and gain a teaching certificate. This could serve as a model for other universities or colleges interested in improving training for future faculty, as well as improve the learning experience for their students while still TA’s.

Many individual programs at UC also offer courses in teaching in their individual areas of specialization.

PFF programs grew out of an initiative started by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Council of Graduate Schools. The PFF approach prepares graduate students for a “variety of responsibilities, not just research or teaching”. Currently, there are 45 doctoral degree-granting institutions and nearly 300 “partner” institutions in the US where PFF programs have been implemented. To learn more about PFF programs, go to the Preparing Future Faculty website.