Mind Map of My Teaching Personal Learning Network

Prior to this semester, I have always said that I have no intention on being a teacher. However, as I reflect on what it means to be a teacher, I have realized that within many of the positions that I have held I have already taken on the role of a teacher. When I started to think about my personal learning network (PLN), it brought me back to the first assignment for this course: writing my own teaching philosophy. As I started to think about my teaching philosophy, I realized that I wanted my PLN to reflect my definition of teaching as both a teacher and administrator.

I created my PLN using iMindMap since it was one of the available resources online. In saying this, my PLN represents a holistic view of what inform my teaching. Moreover, the holistic nature of this PLN is reflected on how the branches represent my development academically (i.e., journals, books, and curriculum), professionally (i.e., teaching as an administrator, teaching as a teacher, and internet resources), and personally (i.e., personal networks such as supervisors, faculty, doctoral students, and friends and family). My mind map can be seen below:

Akeisha's PLN

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Book Review of Angelo and Cross’s Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

Angelo, T.A., & Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, California: Jossey Bass.

By illustrating practical techniques for college faculty to use to assess their teaching and their students’ learning across different disciplines, Angelo and Cross provide the necessary tools to improve and enhance our understanding of the effectiveness and perceptions of our teaching and learning. As well-renowned nationally recognized scholars, educators, and consultants that focuses on issues of classroom assessment, learning, and teaching, Angelo and Cross’s Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teaching spans across several disciplines of higher education to answer two fundamental questions (i.e., how well are students learning and how effectively are teachers teaching) and to develop and disseminate classroom research in an effort to bring the benefits of assessment and educational research into the classroom and under the control of faculty members. Although this text it may appear to be outdated, it is a comprehensive and practical handbook that addresses college faculty’s questions and concerns about classroom research and classroom assessment to facilitate better learning and more effective teaching. Throughout the text, Angelo and Cross purposefully and successfully navigate through the complex narrative of assessment that is full of pedagogical nuances to control how the reader is self-reflective and self-evaluative of their own teaching. The way the authors consolidate the information, research, and techniques within the text is simplified and easily digested in order to maintain the handbook’s practicality. To do this, the authors designed the structure of the handbook in a manner that carefully constructs examples, guides, tips, strategies, techniques to offer college faculty with varied levels of experience with classroom assessment and research a dynamic reference for evaluating their own teaching and their student’s learning based on discipline-based teaching goals and priorities that are significantly related to the subject matter.

When teaching goals and student learning are properly identified and evaluated through assessment techniques, a student’s true potential to learn and a professor’s optimal potential to teach as a learner themselves is exposed and maximized. Angelo and Cross’ purpose of offering practical techniques to help college faculty identify, transform, and enhance their teaching illuminates that importance of balancing assessment, evaluation, and active learning to produce effective and impactful teaching and student learning. The handbook is structured along three parts that allows the reader to progress through the book in a non-linear fashion based on what is useful and appeals to their personal teaching goals and particular field of study. Part One: Getting Started in Classroom Assessment serves as both an introduction to the foundations of classroom assessment for new or inexperienced college faculty and a comprehensive review of assessment for more experienced college faculty. Moreover, Part Two: Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) presents and explores a compilation of fifty practical classroom assessment techniques college faculty can implement to increase student’s knowledge and skills, reaction to instruction, and their attitudes, values, and self-awareness as learners. Thus, increasing students’ motivation, promote active learning, sense of community, and their ability to learn holistically. Last, Part Three: Building on What We Have Learned reflects and reviews the content of the handbook and the knowledge and lessons learned by the authors to suggest new directions in classroom assessment and research.

Similar to my review of Barkley’s Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty, this review will focus more on the practical ideas and techniques that resonate and align with my teaching philosophy that are informed by my personal teaching goals and desired outcome for my student’s learning. The “classroom assessment approach” discussion at the beginning of the book was very thought-provoking as it made me started to ask myself about what I am learning as a student and how well I am learning and understanding the knowledge that is being presented to me. The indication that the approach should be learner-centered, teacher-directed, mutually beneficial, formative, context-specific, ongoing, and firmly rooted in good practice rally made me think about the idea of holistic student learning through various forms of teaching. Moreover, this made me reflect on my own teaching and learning moments and I realized that throughout these experiences I have recognized that they were learner-centered, mutually beneficial, formative, and ongoing. When reflecting on this approach in relation to my own teaching goals and desires for student learning, an assessment of a student’s holistic might not be context-specific or teacher-directed. Even though this approach made me think about other forms of teaching, the handbook doesn’t account for learning and teaching that takes place outside the classroom by other individuals that students and teachers interact with. This lack of awareness for teaching and learning that occurs outside the classroom offers a counter to the idea that assessment is ongoing since it doesn’t address situational contexts. Moreover, this point makes me think about a point that I stressed in my other reviews that administrators want student to learn, but this learning and teaching takes on a different form than the one in the classroom, but the outcome of this teaching is the same in that the goal is to ensure students are holistically developing and learning from their experiences whether inside or outside of the classroom.

Within the “assumptions of classroom assessment” discussion, I became intrigued by this idea of assessment being founded on seven core assumptions that build upon one another to guide both teachers and students through this process of teaching and learning that is linked to assessment and evaluations. In emphasizing the assumptions of classroom assessment, there were three assumptions that build upon one another to help me reflect on the duality and intersectionality of teaching and student leaning. The first (i.e. the quality of student learning is directly, although not exclusively, related to the quality of teaching. Therefore, one of the most promising ways to improve learning is to improve teaching), second (i.e., to improve their effectiveness, teachers need first to make their goals and objectives explicit and then to get specific, comprehensible feedback on the extent to which they are achieving those goals and objectives), and third assumption (i.e., to improve their learning, students need to receive appropriate and focused feedback early and often; they also need to learn how to assess their own learning) represent the intersectionality, duality, and fluidity of teaching and learning as both the student and the teacher occupy the same roles within different contexts and dependent upon one another to maximize the effectiveness of each other’s own learning and assessment of this learning and newly acquired knowledge. Moreover, these assumptions did not just resonate with me because they address the duality and intersectionality of teaching and learning, but rather they present a formative assessment framework for assessing active leaning, collaborative learning, co-constructed knowledge, and transformative learning within a critical learning environment to encourage and emphasize the balance between learning and performance within particular situations, environments, and contexts.

I found that the following “successful classroom projects” resonated with several of my stated outcomes and goals within my teaching philosophy as both a tutor and as an administrator. Moreover, these projects reflected how I have seen myself “close the feedback loop” in my own experiences with being both a teacher and a learner by being learner-centered, mutually beneficial, holistic, formative, context-specific, ongoing, and integrated within the teaching and learning process. Additionally, these practices made me realize certain foci and teaching goals that resonated with my own ideals on teaching and learning.

  • Assessing Students’ Prior Knowledge
    • Focuses on assessing prior knowledge, recall and understanding
      • Teaching Goal: to help students develop an informed historical perspective
  • Assessing Students’ Skill in Categorizing
    • Focuses on assessing skill in analysis and critical thinking
      • Teaching Goal: to help students develop an ability to distinguish between facts and opinions
  • Assessing Students’ Skill in Applying What They Have Learned
    • Focuses on assessing skill in application and performance
      • Teaching Goal: to help students develop an ability to apply principles and generalizations already learned to new problems and situations
  • Assessing Students’ Awareness of Their Own Values
    • Focuses on assessing students’ awareness of their attitudes and values
      • Teaching Goal: to help students develop their capacity to make informed ethical choices
  • Assessing Students’ Awareness of Learning Goals
    • Focuses on assessing students’ self-awareness as learners
      • Teaching Goal: to help students develop a commitment to their own values
  • Assessing Learners Reactions to New Approaches to Teaching and Learning
    • Focuses on assessing learner reactions to teachers and teaching
      • Teaching Goal: to help students develop appropriate learning skills, strategies, and habits

I found that the following classroom assessment techniques (CATs) resonated with several key tenets of my teaching philosophy (i.e., holistic development and learning, deep learning, critical learning, meaningful learners) as both a tutor and as an administrator. Moreover, I found myself visualizing how I would use scaffolding to implement and integrate these techniques into the teaching and learning process.

  • Assessing Course-Related Knowledge and Skills
    • Prior Knowledge, Recall, and Understanding
      • Background Knowledge Probe
      • Misconception/Preconception Check
      • Minute Paper
    • Skill in Analysis and Critical Thinking
      • Defining Features Matrix
      • Pro and Con Grid
      • Content, Form, and Function Outlines
    • Skill in Synthesis and Creative Thinking
      • Concept Maps
    • Skill in Problem Solving
      • What’s the Principle?
    • Skill in Application and Performance
      • Directed Paraphrasing
      • Application Cards
      • Student-Generated Test Questions
  • Assessing Learner Attitudes, Values, and Self-Awareness
    • Students’ Awareness of Their Attitudes and Values
      • Classroom Opinion Polls
      • Everyday Ethical Dilemmas
      • Course-Related Self-Confidence Surveys
    • Students’ Self-Awareness as Learners
      • Interest/Knowledge/Skills Checklists
      • Goal Ranking and Matching
      • Self-Assessment of Ways of Learning
  • Assessing Learner Reactions to Instruction
    • Learner Reactions to Teachers and Teaching
      • Teacher-Designed Feedback Forms
      • Group Instructional Feedback Techniques
    • Learner reaction to Class Activities, Assignments, and Materials
      • Assignment Assessments
      • Exam Evaluations

After reading this handbook, there were two main takeaways that I found that were consistently present throughout my time reviewing this book. The two main takeaways were “closing the feedback loop” and having an approach that is formative, holistic, learner-centered, mutually beneficial, and ongoing. Moreover, the techniques and content that was discussed in this handbook resonated with me because of their applicability to not just teachers, but to other individuals who engage in teaching and learning within other domains. I found that the most attractive features of classroom assessment discussed in this handbook were focused on the techniques and concepts that were formative, focused on student learning, increases student motivation, and promotes active, critical, and meaningful learning. This handbook made me reflect on my own teaching philosophy about recognizing the different forms that teaching can take and how a simple teaching technique that stresses “closing the feedback loop” can promote a critical learning environment that facilitated co-constructed knowledge, supportive relationships, and active participation and motivation in learning and the process of learning itself.

While this book should prove to be valuable to a wide range of scholars (i.e., graduate students, faculty, administrators, and researchers), there are several contributions that could have been incorporated into this book. First, Angelo and Cross could have been more transparent and provided a more through discussion about the disadvantages and questions surrounding the use of CATs and classroom assessment. That is, it could have been helpful to college faculty if Angelo and Cross develop and presented more content about the gap between faculty and student perceptions of improved learning, the feeling that might arise within faculty about “covering less content” as a result of using CATs and classroom assessment, and the tendency for classroom assessment and CATs to raise more questions about student learning rather than answer them. Additionally, the handbook could have included a more extensive discussion on the advantages of the influence of CATs for individual students. Furthermore, Angelo and Cross could have included a visual student-centered and transformative learning. Moreover, the authors could have acknowledged and addressed student engagement and motivation within the classroom learning environments and experiences that have students with learning disabilities or low academic self-esteem. Last, similar to my reviews of Barkley’s Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty and Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do, this handbook could have benefited from an acknowledgement of the student’s role in investing energy in the co-creation of the learning environment and co-construction of knowledge within this environment is necessary and would be beneficial for the reader while progressing through the handbook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation Video Module: A Teacher’s Perspective

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Hi everyone,

Here is my video about motivation. I tried something a little different as this video is interactive and will allow you to choose the material that you want to learn. The platform of my video wouldn’t allow me to embed the video within this post, so I have provided a link to the video. I hope you all enjoy this interactive video!

Here is the link to the video: http://www.verse.com/video/8946-motivation-a-teachers-perspective/

A Review of Barkley’s Student Engagement Handbook

Barkley, E. F. (2009). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass. pp. 416 Paperback $30.58

By illustrating practical and effective strategies and techniques for college faculty to use to increase the level of student engagement across different disciplines, Elizabeth F. Barkley suggests a new focus on the effective implementation of previously established techniques to increase motivation and active learning as functions of student engagement. As a well-renowned and nationally recognized scholar, educator, and consultant that focuses on issues pertaining to engaging students through active and collaborative learning, transforming face-to-face and online curriculum to need the needs of diverse learners, and connecting learning goals with outcomes and assessment, Barkley’s Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty spans across several disciplines of higher education, covering how these techniques and strategies can be applied by college faculty to facilitate different type of learning and motivation. Although it’s very technical, it is a comprehensive and engaging handbook that addresses college faculty’s questions about how they should balance motivation and active learning to facilitate a collaborative environment that engages students in critical and impactful learning experiences. Barkley possesses control of this complex narrative that is full of ideas, strategies, and techniques that are self-reflective and thought-provoking. The way the author consolidates the information and research within the text is nuanced and easily digested. To do this, the author uses scaffolding to carefully construct examples, guides, tips, strategies, and techniques to college faculty and the reader as a dynamic instructional model for engaging students through motivation and active learning.

When motivation and active learning is properly studied and applied effectively through engagement, a student’s true potential to learn and a professor’s true potential to teach is exposed and maximized. Barkley’s purpose of offering practical tips, strategies, and techniques to help college faculty transform and enhance their classroom experience and environment into a stimulating and rewarding one illuminates the importance of balancing motivation and active learning to produce effective and impactful student engagement. The handbook is structured along three parts that allows the reader to progress through the book in a non-linear fashion based on what is useful and appeals to them. Part One: A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Student Engagement examines the theoretical models and frameworks (i.e., behaviorist, cognitive, goals, and need-goals) that helped to define and structure student engagement as a synergistic interaction between motivation and active learning. Moreover, Part Two: Tips and Strategies presents and explores the manner in which college faculty can implement practical and effective student engagement strategies to increase motivation, promote active learning, build community, help students learn holistically, and ensure students are appropriately challenged. Last, Part Three: Student Engagement Techniques (SETs) carefully demonstrates step-by-step directions on how to implement learning activities that enhance learning goals ranging from acquiring basic knowledge, skills, and understanding to developing attitudes, values, and self-awareness.

Compared to my review of Bain that was a more critically technical review, this review will focus more on the practical ideas and strategies that resonate and align with my teaching philosophy. The “engagement and motivation” discussion at the beginning of the book was very thought-provoking as this caused me to be very evaluative of the text throughout my time reading the book. The initial statement that caught my attention was the idea that college faculty want students to want to learn. This concept made me think about the idea of holistic students learning through various forms of teaching. The expressed desire of wanting students to want to learn doesn’t just extend to the classroom, but it can also extent to other domains and professions within a college setting. Administrators want student to learn, but this learning and teaching takes on a different form than the one in the classroom. Even though the forms are different, the outcome of this teaching is the same, in that, the goal is to ensure students are holistically developing and learning from their experiences whether inside or outside of the classroom.

Within the “engagement and motivation” discussion, I became intrigued by Brophy’s (2004) idea that the motivation to learn is an acquired competence developed through an individual’s cumulative experience with learning situations. The statement resonated with to me because it encompasses the basic understanding that whether students are externally or internally motivated, the drive to be motivated stems from the knowledge and experiences acquired throughout the time a person has been a student. Moreover, it leaves open the idea that motivation can be activated or suppressed in specific situations as the student’s general disposition is constantly in flux. Moreover, the idea that theories about motivation combine elements of needs and goals models to emphasize the importance of factors within the individual through an expectancy x value model was reflective of my teaching philosophy. In emphasizing the idea that today’s theories incorporate elements of needs and goals models, I realized that my teaching philosophy resonates with the idea of establishing and maintaining supportive relationships with students that facilitates collaborative learning, co-constructed knowledge, and transformative learning within a critical learning environment to encourage learning goals rather than performance goals. Thus, this objective is dependent upon the environment and the learning experiences within this environment minimizing the pressure that makes students adopt performance goals or work-avoidant goals.

I found that the following strategies and implementation techniques from Barkley’s (2009) handbook resonated with several of my stated outcomes and goals within my teaching philosophy as both a tutor and as an administrator.

  • Use behaviorist-based strategies to reward learning rather than behavior (Barkley, 2009, p. 82)
    • Make explicit that it is the learning and what the learning leads to that is of value rather than participation in or completion of an activity
    • Recognize the degree of individual improvement rather than making peer comparisons
    • Emphasize the quality of accomplishment rather than quantity of work.
  • Attend to students’ basic needs so that they can focus on the higher-level needs required for learning (Barkley, 2009, p. 84)
    • Incorporate activities that require social interaction and physical movement
    • Be aware of students’ psychological needs while also taking care to ensure students feel safe to say/ write what they truly think or feel without fear of ridicule or criticism by either you or their peers.
  • Promote student autonomy (Barkley, 2009, p. 85)
    • Encourage students to define, monitor, and achieve self-determined goals individually
    • Help students to use self-assessment procedures that monitor progress as well as identify personal strengths and potential barriers
    • Provide students with meaningful rationales that enable them to understand the purpose and personal importance of course activities
    • Avoid making students right, wrong, good, or bad based on their choices but instead emphasize accountability
  • Incorporate competition appropriately (Barkley, 2009, p. 89)
    • Have students conduct drills and practice tasks designed to produce mastery of specific skills or where speed of performance or quantity of output is more important than creativity, artistry, or craftsmanship
      • Make conscious effort to ensure that the attention is focused on learning goals
      • Have team-based competition rather than individual verses individual competition

The subsequent discussion about “engagement and active learning” was informative as I appreciated how Barkley described the learning process as dynamic, wherein learners build and create their own mind by constantly creating and transforming the associated connections between what is new knowledge and what is pre-existing knowledge. This resonated with me as it reflects the ideas of deep learning, critical learning, creating and forming new cognitive schemas, learning goals, and meaningful learning. These are all concepts that I emphasize in my teaching philosophy for being both a tutor and an administrator.

I found that the following strategies and implementation techniques from Barkley’s (2009) handbook resonated with several of my stated outcomes and goals within my teaching philosophy as both a tutor and as an administrator.

  • Be clear on your learning goals (Barkley, 2009, p. 94)
    • Establish and make learning goals student focused rather than professor focused
    • Focus on the learning resulting from an activity rather than on the activity itself
    • Focus on aspects of learning that will develop and endure but that can be assessed in some form now
  • Help students develop learning strategies (Barkley, 2009, p. 98)
    • Incorporated learning strategy development into content-based learning activities
      • Ensure that there is alignment between the level of learning (i.e., basic definitions, structural knowledge, application, or analysis) and what the general strategy is based on (i.e., rehearsing, organizing, recognizing relationships among key concepts, or visually representing the problem)
  • Move away from an authoritarian role (Barkley, 2009, p. 110)
    • In a true learning community, teachers and students are partners in the learning process (co-constructors)
      • Try to minimalize harsh, directive language and shift to the shared power and learner-centered teaching which characterizes a community of learners
        • Thus, through a shift in language and tone, as well as including information that explicitly communicates your attitude about students should reflect your intent and follow through of increasing student engagement through a less authoritarian perceived role.

In the discussion about “promoting synergy between motivation and active learning,” I became invested in the idea of processing motivation and active learning as twin helices that work together synergistically with the incorporation of the three classroom conditions (i.e., sense of classroom community, optimal level of challenge, and holistic student learning) as rungs between the two sides of the double helix spiral to increase levels of student engagement. The authors use of a double helix spiral and the premise of what readers might equate to the idea of DNA was unique, in that, it took abstract concepts and translated into a common visual depiction that demonstrated the relationship and interaction between motivation, active learning, community, challenge, and holistic learning. This visual along with the conditions were significant, in that, it helped me connect the advice from this handbook to my teaching philosophy which forms the basis of my main takeaway from reviewing this handbook.

I found that the following strategies and implementation techniques from Barkley’s (2009) handbook resonated with several of my stated outcomes and goals within my teaching philosophy as both a tutor and as an administrator.

  • Differentiate learning elements to meet individual student needs (Barkley, 2009, p. 130)
    • Use differentiation to encourage and support individual students working at their optimal challenge zone
      • Organize a learning around differentiated principles (i.e., level, how students access material, process, product, classroom space, materials, and time)
  • Use scaffolding to provide assistance for complex learning (Barkley, 2009, p. 133)
    • Provide support students require to persist on a difficult task that might otherwise become overwhelming
    • Guide students to do their best work
      • The kind of assistance scaffolding provides should be just enough to keep students from getting lost, trusting them to chart the rest of their journey to learning on their own
  • Incorporate multiple domains when identifying learning goals (Barkley, 2009, p. 140)
    • Balance learning goals that address the affective, psychomotor, and cognitive domains

After reading this book, there was one main takeaway that I found was consistently present throughout my time reviewing this book. The main takeaway that I had was that the strategies and content that were discussed within the book and this this review was applicability to not just teachers, but to other individuals who engage in teaching and learning within other domains. This book made me reflect on my own teaching philosophy about recognizing the different forms that teaching can take and how simply teaching strategies can translate in any situation where teaching and learning takes place. Within certain aspects of an administrator’s job, there is a need for students to want to learn and get better which reflects the same double helices of motivation and active learning. Thus, I kept referring back to the fact that some if not all of the strategies could be applied to work in areas such as student conduct, substance abuse, mental health, counseling, and other administrative and student services/support offices within college campuses.

While this book should prove valuable to a wide range of scholars (i.e., graduate students, faculty, and student affairs professionals and administrators), there are five contributions that could have been incorporated into this book. First, Barkley could have included more explicit definitions of concepts and distinctions of these concepts that are not easily understandable to the audience outside of the field (i.e., performance goals versus learning goals, mastery goals vs performance goals, course objectives vs learning outcomes) since this book is applicable to many disciplines. Throughout the book, Barkley presumes that the reader is from the same academic background and field, which is problematic as teaching can take on different forms and meanings within different disciplines. While the teaching strategies offered are applicable to many disciplines, they do not differentiate between the philosophies and understandings of educators in specific fields of teaching within these different disciplines. The strategies, techniques, and ideas are heavily based on the philosophies and understanding taught within the specific field of education (i.e., teacher prep programs, higher education, educational psychology) and targeted for this audience, but does not consider the differences between those educators teaching within the field of education and educators teaching in specific fields such as psychology. Second, Barkley could have provided a descriptive depiction of a college faculty member demonstrating a learner-centered approach. This lack of depiction goes back to the previous point that the author presumes that the audience has extensive knowledge of and experience with such concepts. Another addition to the book could have been a visual depiction of transformative learning as this would have strengthened the importance of having this type of learning within a critical learning environment that is based on co-constructed knowledge, participation, engagement, motivation, and meaningful learning. A fourth improvement could have been acknowledging and addressing student engagement within classroom learning environments and experiences that have students with learning disabilities or low academic self-esteem. Last, an acknowledgement of the student’s role in investing energy in the co-creation of the learning environment and con-construction ok knowledge within this environment is necessary and would be beneficial for the reader while progressing through the handbook.

A Review of Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do

Bain, K. (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 207 Hardcover $18.38

By juxtaposing illustrations of effective and ineffective teaching within higher education across different disciplines, Ken Bain, the President of the Best Teachers Institute, suggests a new focus for how teachers think and conceptualize their teaching techniques and strategies. As a well-renowned scholar that has written on issues pertaining to higher education teaching and learning such as deep and sustained learning and the creation of natural critical learning environments, Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do (2004) spans across several disciplines of higher education, covering how teachers in different disciplines facilitate transformational learning through learning-centered teaching. Although it is very subjective, it is a masterful and engaging narrative of the best teaching and learning practices and the progressive thinking of how successful educators conceptualize their teaching. Bain possesses outstanding control of this complex narrative which is full of pedagogical nuances that are self-reflective and thought-provoking. These nuances perfectly demonstrated how carefully constructed personal narratives from successful teachers functioned as self-reflective mechanisms to help readers form appraisals of their own teaching approaches and strategies while helping them understand that effective teaching can be learned.

While all seven chapters (excluding the Epilogue) can stand alone, together they cohere chronologically, conceptually, and thematically to illustrate how Bain exposes the intricacies of the US higher education pedagogical framework through the perspective of highly successful and effective teachers. Bain traces his fundamental issue and argument by demonstrating higher education’s evolving relationship and engagement with the ideal of teaching and learning being a developmental process that shifts from “transmitting” knowledge to knowledge construction. Although Bain explores this transition, the most interesting and extensive perspective of this transformational shift is the role of intersectionality, reflection, self-evaluation, and willingness to change in teaching and learning within higher education. Moreover, Bain manages to control an unwieldy mass of material and coherently group seemingly purposeful illustrations and ideas to propel the narrative of professors succeeding in helping students learn in ways that sustain a substantial positive influence on students’ thoughts, actions, and feelings. These illustrations, ideas, and conclusions emerge as markers and categories of distinction between effective and ineffective teaching and learning. In the process, these techniques, strategies, and approaches that might have been overlooked emerge with clarity.

This book is structured along six broad questions that serve not only as the chapter titles for the book, but also as the basis for the conclusions drawn from the responses of the “outstanding” teachers that were included in the study. The first chapter of this book functions as an introduction to teaching and learning within higher education and transitions into the major conclusions of Bain’s study. The second chapter focuses on specific conclusions that were drawn from teachers’ responses to what they knew and understood. The third chapter focuses on a close examination of the patterns of questions that effective teachers used to form the initial starting point and foundation of their preparation for teaching students. Subsequently, the fourth chapter carefully explores the pedagogical practices and thinking of professors to assess the expectations that the “best” teachers had of their students. Moreover, the fifth chapter discusses the various methods the “best” professors use in their instructional methods to create learning opportunities that help build a natural critical learning environment. The sixth chapter focuses on how these teachers treated their students. Last, the seventh chapter discusses how professors use different evaluation and assessment methods for feedback on their teaching, how they use the evaluation of students to help establish reflective assessment of their teaching and the student’s learning, and how they design and approach grading to keep the focus on real learning objectives.

The first chapter of Bain’s book is a cursory but pivotal overview of the major conclusions of the study as it effectively sets the foundation for how “outstanding” teachers think about their practices and strategies. The assertions made in this chapter align with my perspective that effective teachers and administrators have the ability to help students develop and implement techniques for better comprehension of fundamental principles, organize concepts to help construct individualized understanding and provocative insights, and simplify and clarify complex ideas. This ability stresses the importance of beginning with questions about student learning objectives and development rather than about what the teacher or administrator will do. While the first chapter introduces the main conclusions formed from the questions asked of effective teachers, the second chapter provides a unique and interesting cognitively-driven perspective of how knowledge is constructed, mental models change slowly, and the critical role of questions and caring in how teachers understand how students learn. I agree that people learn best when they ask questions that demonstrate genuine interest or express a desire to accomplish a goal that is contingent upon reconciling, explaining, modifying, or integrating new knowledge with old. I believe that through this process, students make the shift from focusing on “transmitting” knowledge to stimulating knowledge construction through “deep” learning rather than “surface” learning. Thus, students begin to understand and remember what they have learned because they have not only mastered concepts but are using their reasoning ability to integrate these concepts.

In the third chapter, Bain successfully illustrates how teaching can be anything that teachers do to foster and encourage learning through a strong concern for and understanding of the development of students. This point resonated with my view of teaching as it is the crux of my teaching philosophy that stresses that teaching can occur and be conducted within an academic and nonacademic context. That is, teaching is not an isolated action that can only happen in the classroom but can occur outside the classroom through the actions of others that are not functioning within the traditional role of a teacher. The fourth chapter serves as a summative juncture that ties together several of the earlier threads by describing how learning takes place not when students perform well on examinations but when they evaluate how they think and behave well beyond the classroom. It is a crucial part of the book because it allows the audience to reflect on the focus of teaching within both the present and future context. Moreover, it provides a strong and convincing argument that the future of effective teaching centers on the need for students to confront important concepts and ideas that allow students to see them from a variety of perspectives and to build their own understanding of the material. This confrontation will help students shift their focus from making the grade to thinking about personal goals of development and “deep” learning that is meaningful both inside and outside of the classroom. Last, the seventh chapter serves as a revelation to readers by explain the overall working framework of how effective teachers operate within a learning-centered approach that views evaluation and assessment as supportively intertwined to deliberately benefit learning. The readers have an understanding that students should prepare themselves intellectually, to concentrate on what they understand and how they reason with what they comprehend. Moreover, the goal should be to establish congruity between the intellectual objectives of the course and those that the evaluation mechanism assesses. Thus, these mechanisms of evaluation and assessment should function as extensions of the kind of work that is already occurring.

There are two major points of contention that resonated with me while reading Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do (2004). The notion that actual classroom performance and the manner in which teachers achieved their results was not important was slightly troubling and contradictory with other points raised later in the book. Bain raised this point in the first chapter of the book, but later contradicted this point in the fifth chapter when discussing the employment of teaching crafts in the classroom. Bain indicated that performance in front of students can affect how they learn. This contradiction was troubling because the tests that were used for the study were concerned with what students learned and whether they were highly satisfied with the teaching and it inspired them to learn. Since the tests were focused on student learning and satisfaction, it would make since to acknowledge that performance could impact these perceptions based on the Bain’s statement in the fifth chapter. Furthermore, it seemed counter to the narrative to dedicate an entire chapter to discussing teaching techniques and strategies within the classroom (i.e., warm language, getting students to talk, making explanations, and good talk) if how teachers achieved their results and actual classroom performance of teachers didn’t matter for this study. Another point of contention was that Bain did not acknowledge how performance-based thinking is slightly reflected in learning-centered approaches. While I support the learning-centered approach, there is a need for Bain to acknowledge that some tenets of performance-based thinking are incorporated into learning-centered approaches. I make this point because the ends result of either approach is always a grade that functions to rank students even though the intention of the teacher may be to use it as a way to communicate with the student.

After reading this book, there were many important takeaways that can inform the practices and strategies of teachers and higher education in general. The first takeaway that I had from this reading was that it is impossible to reach every student equally. This lead me to understand Bain’s point that while this book offers recommendations for the best teaching strategies, it is not appropriate to take components of the strategies and techniques mentioned throughout the book and combine them with ineffective teaching habits with the expectation of transforming my teaching. Moreover, I took away that effective teaching should be transformational, wherein teachers and higher education professionals needs to understand that good teaching is learned through systematic and reflective appraisal of individual teaching approaches and strategies to make appropriate changes. Finally, I learned that effective teachers should reflect a strong sense of trust in students, display an investment in the students and their learning instead of power, generate and sustain an ability to carry out the same intellectual, physical, or emotional expectations of their students, and treat their interactions with students as a conversation rather than a performance.

While this book should prove valuable to a wide range of scholars (i.e., graduate students, faculty, student affairs professionals and administrators, and governmental professionals), there are three contributions that could have been incorporated into this book. First, Bain could have acknowledged the role of the learner (student) and their individual characteristics and differences (i.e., student motivation) even though the focus of the book is on teachers. Second, Bain could have included more objectively-based measures, conceptualizations, and definitions of an “outstanding” teacher. There was an extensive use of subjectivity that raised questions and concerns about labeling professors as the “best” or “outstanding.” If the study is going to use subjective-based conceptualizations and definitions, then it might be better to use the terms effective or ineffective teaching practices and strategies to avoid suggesting that other teachers are held in lower regard. Also, this would help to account for the point that even “outstanding” professors can have students that view their experience with this professor as negative or did not have a transformational learning experience with this individual. Last, a macro-level application of these practices and strategies could be incorporated as there was an extensive use of micro-level application of how effective teachers think and the strategies and techniques they use. Some of these strategies seemed to run counter to the overall structure of the higher education system and could be hard for teachers or administrators to implement based on visible and invisible barriers that prevent the circumvention of traditional standards, curriculum, expectations, and practices. Thus, a balance between micro and macro-level application would allow for the audience to fully see the vast impact that these teaching practice and strategies have on various structural levels of institutions of higher education.

Life as a Teaching Philosophy

 

When contemplating about pedagogy and learning, it is important to note that there are many ways to define and identify the role of the human element in facilitating teaching and learning. Oftentimes, people mistakenly associate teaching, learning, and teaching philosophies with only the responsibilities and roles of instructors and professors. However, the concepts of teaching, learning, and having a teaching philosophy are interdisciplinary and applicable to other domains within the college context. My teaching philosophy functions within the domains of academic affairs and student affairs. Moreover, my perspectives on teaching and learning serves as a guiding compass that informs my facilitation of teaching and learning as an academic tutor and as a former student affairs administrator.

As I reflect on my principles regarding teaching and learning, I find that my purpose as an academic tutor and former administrator is six-fold:

  • promote positive and meaningful learning;
  • encourage active learning and participation;
  • encourage a co-constructed learning environment;
  • provide opportunities for student development and growth;
  • respect diverse talents and ways of learning;
  • and develop transformational relationships with students

To accomplish this six-fold purpose, I implement several integrative and overlapping strategies that allows for students to develop into individuals that are meaningful learners, better prepared for personal, academic, and professional opportunities and challenges in the future, and co-constructers of their own knowledge.

As an academic tutor, I use differentiated instruction to structure and individualized my sessions based on the needs of each student. Moreover, I work collaboratively with each student to address the concerns, questions, or frustrations he or she may have about his or her assignment or, sometimes, the class in general. By addressing each students’ frustrations and concerns, I am able to relate to them and help them understand that while every student works and processes knowledge at different levels, it is more important for them to strive to produce their best effort regardless of the level of everyone else. Furthermore, when I am tutoring students, I inform them of other resources and programs that could help them with their courses and development. I recommend these resources so that each student can become more knowledgeable about his or her academic and professional career. Within this position, I also guide students in understanding the importance of the material they are learning and how these concepts could help them in other areas of their life through the use of probing questions that help facilitate meaningful learning. This guidance that I provide is co-constructed in a way that helps to facilitate not only meaningful learning, but also meaningful conversations on a personal level about how the material relates to something in their life or their educational and career goals. Lastly, I closely evaluate a student’s progress and development over time to collaboratively work with the student to help develop, adjust, and enhance their learning strategies for processing and understanding course material as a meaningful learner rather than a regurgitative learner.

As a former student conduct administrator within the Division of Student Affairs, I implemented a teaching philosophy that was predicated on differentiated learning and instruction. Each student’s case and sanction management were tailored to that individual and their situation. When assigning, managing, and monitoring sanctions, I incorporated educational and restorative components to ensure students were processing this experience as a learning and growth moment rather than punishment. This process of co-constructed teaching and learning was instrumental in helping each student in crisis become meaningful learners that acknowledged that everyone is challenged and has to live with the consequences of their actions, but it is more important for them to overcome their obstacles and strive to be the best person that they can be. Additionally, during the sanctioning and monitoring of each students’ case, I evaluated whether the student was successfully progressing academically—an important part of my philosophy. I conducted follow-up meetings to better monitor and adjust sanctions, treatment plans, and academic needs based on the needs of the student and the evaluations and feedback from other professional staff involved in the process. If students’ cases indicated they were struggling academically, I incorporated academic tutoring at the Center for Academic Success, career planning/mapping at the Career Center, or other services and programs to help them be successful both academically and professionally. This strategic probing not only helped facilitated more knowledge about academic success and career opportunities, but it also provided an environment for students to converse on a personal level about how the information they were learning informed their educational and career goals, their academic performance, and overall well-being.