Thursday, July 17, 2008

I should be doing more of this

An article by Martha Kinney in today's Inside Higher Education explains how the military's training methods can be applied in the college classroom.  The basic points are: make expectations explicit, have students crawl, then walk, then run, and be thick-skinned enough to seek out informed criticism of your teaching methods.

She points out that college instructors may apply this conscientiously to the content of what they teach, and yet completely fail to use it in teaching the skills they want students to build.  For me, the big difficulty is that I need to clarify for myself exactly what skills my class will develop (not just "I want them to be able to think like scientists.").  Perhaps focusing on understanding how scientists write would be best (following on my recent conversation with a colleague in the English Department) - this would let us build both writing skills and interpretation skills.

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