Major Ideas That Can Empower College Teaching

This is a list of major ideas on college teaching, shown by the year in which a new publication either introduced the idea or consolidated existing information on the idea. The point of this list is to illustrate that the scholars of teaching and learning are continuing to generate powerful new ideas year after year, thereby creating the possibility of enhancing the capabilities of college teachers everywhere - IF faculty members take time to learn about these ideas and incorporate them into their practice of teaching.

2013 - SCIENCE OF LEARNING

  • This book, written for learners rather than teachers, explores our current understanding of how the brain works, as a basis for laying out guidelines for how students can maximize the quantity and quality of their own learning.
  • Doyle, T. and Zakrajsek, T. (2013) The new science of learning. Stylus.

2013 - SELF-REGULATED LEARNING

  • College teachers need to help students better understand and take responsibility for their own learning. This book provides major guidance on how to do that.
  • Nilson, L. B. Creating self-regulated learners. Stylus.

2012 - USING TECHNOLOGY EFFECTIVELY

  • We have all been aware that technology is and needs to be a more important part of our teaching. This book, without overstating the case, makes an argument for and provides guidelines on how to do this.
  • Bowen, J. (2012). Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. Jossey-Bass.

2010 - CRITICAL THINKING

  • This is a topic that all college-level teachers embrace, and Stephen Brookfield does his usual great job of taking a complex subject and making it understandable and actionable.
  • Brookfield, S. (2010). Teaching for critical thinking: Tools and techniques to help students question their assumptions. Jossey-Bass.

2010 - COGNITIVE SCIENCE

  • This book lays out 7 research-based principles about how learning works, that have clear implications for what we should do as teachers.
  • Susan Ambrose, et al. (2010). How learning works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching. Jossey-Bass.

2010 - STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

  • This book, modeled after the structure of Classroom Assessment Techniques, offers a well-organized set of activities that will improve your ability to get students more engaged in their learning.
  • Barkley, E. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. Jossey-Bass.

2008 - CREATIVITY

  • This book argues that everyone needs learn how to be more innovative and creative, and offers ideas on how to incorporate that into our teaching.
  • McWilliam, E. (2008). The Creative workshop: How to launch young people into high-flying futures. University of New South Wales Press (Australia).

2007 - TEACHING LARGE CLASSES

  • Another book on the challenges of teaching large classes, an increasingly familiar situation in colleges and universities.
  • Heppner, F. (2007). Teaching the large college class. Jossey-Bass.

2007 - ALIGNMENT OF OBJECTIVES, ACTIVITIES, AND ASSESSMENTS

  • Another form of design courses that indicates teachers should make sure the desired learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment activities should be aligned. Also offers the SOLO taxonomy that identifies levels of understanding of particular kinds of learning. This book has been especially influential in the British Commonwealth countries.
  • Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching for quality learning. Open University Press, 3rd ed.

2006 - TEACHING FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS

  • Offers information about the characteristics of beginning college students and strategies for teaching them effectively.
  • Erickson, B. et al. (2006). Teaching first-year college students. Jossey-Bass.

2005 - UNDERSTANDING BY DESIGN

  • Provides a way of designing courses to promote a wider range of ways of "understanding". It starts with identifying important kinds of learning and then identifies appropriate kinds of learning activities and assessment activities. Often referred to as "backwards design".
  • Wiggins, G. (2005). Understanding by design. Prentice Hall, 2nd ed.

2005 - DISCUSSION

  • A new edition on this topic. This one includes thoughts on how to lead discussions in online courses.
  • Source: Brookfield, S. and Preskill, S. (2005). Discussion as a way of teaching: Tools and techniques for democratic classrooms, 2nd ed. Jossey-Bass.

2005 - TEACHING INCLUSIVELY

  • Provides a wide range of ideas and resources for dealing with the challenge of diversity - at the level of the individual classroom, the department, and the institution.
  • Ouellett, Mathew, ed. (2005). Teaching inclusively: Resources for course, department and institutional change in higher education. New Forums Press: Stillwater, OK.

2004 - FORMATIVE FEEDBACK

  • Identifies 7 principles for giving formative feedback in a way that will enable students and teachers to improve learning. Includes examples.
  • Juwah, C.; et al. (2004). Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback. The Higher Education Academy, York, England. http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources.asp?process=full_record&section=generic&id=353

2004 - LEARNING PORTFOLIOS

  • A special procedure in which students reflect on and assess their own learning.
  • Zubizarreta, J. (2004). Learning portfolios: Reflective practices for improving student learning. Anker.

2004 - TEAM-BASED LEARNING

  • An unusually versatile teaching strategy that enables teachers to take small-group learning to a greater level of effectiveness.
  • Michaelsen, L., Knight, A., & Fink, L.D. (2004). Team-based learning: A transformative use of small groups. Stylus.

2004 - THEORIES OF LEARNING AND MOTIVATION

  • Familiarizing ourselves with different theories of learning and motivation can enable us to shape more effective teaching.
  • Svinicki, M.D. (2004). Learning and motivation in the postsecondary classroom. Anker.

2003 - A TAXONOMY OF SIGNIFICANT LEARNING

  • This taxonomy, a possible successor to the Bloom taxonomy, identifies six kinds of significant learning can be used to formulate learning goals.
  • Fink, L.D. (2003). A taxonomy of significant learning, Chapter 2 in L.D. Fink, Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. Jossey-Bass.

2003 - INTEGRATED COURSE DESIGN

  • Identifies the key decisions that must be made before a course begins, and that need to be aligned to maximize significant student learning.
  • Source: Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. Jossey-Bass.

2002 - HOW THE BRAIN WORKS

  • An understanding of how learning occurs in the brain can inform can and should inform our actions as teachers.
  • Zull, J. (2002). The art of changing the brain. Stylus.

2002 - LEARNER-CENTERED TEACHING

  • By sharing our power and decision-making with students, we can involve them more fully in taking responsibility for their own learning.
  • Weimer, M. (2002). Learner-centered teaching. Jossy-Bass.

2001 - PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING

  • This is a distinctive teaching strategy that teaches students how to solve complex problems, in groups, and how to learn on their own.
  • Duch, B., Groh, S. & Allen, D. (2001). The power of problem-based learning. Stylus.

1999 - LEARNING COMMUNITIES

  • Learning communities, whether of students or of faculty, can lead to powerful forms of dialogue and growth.
  • Shapiro, N. & Levine, J. (1999). Creating learning communities. Jossey-Bass.

1999 - PEER REVIEW OF TEACHING

  • There are some principles that need to be observed when having our teaching reviewed by peers.
  • Chism, N.V.N. (1999). Peer review of teaching. Anker.

1998 - EFFECTIVE GRADING RUBRICS

  • When assessing student work, teachers need to have clear criteria and standards, i.e., a clear and effective grading rubric.
  • Walvoord, B. and Anderson, V. (1998). Effective grading. Jossey-Bass.

1998 - IN-DEPTH UNDERSTANDING OF ONESELF AS A PERSON/TEACHER

  • By doing some "inner work", teachers can understand what calls them to teach, what fears they have, and eventually how to engage students more fully.
  • Palmer, P. (1998). The courage to teach. Jossey-Bass.

1998 - SERVICE LEARNING

  • Having students engage in community-based service projects which are then related to classroom learning drives multiple kinds of powerful learning.
  • Zlotkowski, E. (1998). Successful service learning programs. Anker.

1998 - STRUCTURED ASSIGNMENTS FOR SMALL GROUPS

  • Small group projects will work much better when they are carefully structured with specific kinds of learning in mind.
  • Millis, B. and Cottell, P. (1998). Cooperative learning for higher education faculty. Oryx.

1997 - DEEP LEARNING

  • Students become effective learners only when they understand and engage in deep learning.
  • Marton, F., Hounsell, D., and Entwistle, N. (1997). The experience of learning. 2nd ed. Scottish, Academic Press.

1997 - TEACHING PORTFOLIO

  • Assembling a portfolio about oneself as a teacher can help us understand ourselves better and can communicate our teaching to others.
  • Seldin, P. (1997). The teaching portfolio, 2nd ed. Anker.

1996 - TEACHING STUDENTS HOW TO ENGAGE IDEAS

  • Knowing how to integrate good writing assignments, critical thinking exercises, and active learning will enable students to engage ideas more fully.
  • Bean, J.C. (1996). Engaging ideas. Jossey-Bass.

1995 - CRITICALLY REFLECTING ON YOUR OWN TEACHING

  • If we systematically collect information about teaching in general and about ourselves, over time we can become more competent as a teacher.
  • Brookfield, S.D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. Jossey-Bass.

1995 - EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

  • There is a second kind of intelligence that teachers need to have and that they could help their students learn.
  • Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. Bantam Books.

1995 - EVALUATING YOUR OWN TEACHING

  • There are five basic sources of information all of which need to be used if we want to do a thorough job of evaluating our own teaching.
  • Fink. L.D. (1995). Evaluating your own teaching, in P. Seldin, Improving college teaching. Anker.

1993 - CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES

  • There are many easy-to-use techniques that can help teachers assess learning, teaching, and student characteristics.
  • Angelo, T. & Cross, P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques, 2nd ed. Jossey-Bass.

1992 - LEARNING STYLES

  • Different students learn in different ways. Knowing what those differences are can help us find ways to increase their success.
  • Multiple sources but an especially useful one is: Fleming, N.D. & Mills, C. (1992). Helping students understand how they learn, in The Teaching Professor, Vol. 7 No. 4.

1991 - ACTIVE LEARNING

  • Students learn better if teachers have them do something with what they learn and reflect on the meaning of what they do.
  • Bonwell, C. and Eison, J. (1991). Active learning. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Reports, #1.

1991 - COOPERATIVE LEARNING

  • Having students work in small groups can create powerful energy for learning.
  • Johnson, D., Johnson, R., and Smith, K. (1991). Cooperative learning. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Reports, #4.

 

Prepared by:
Dr. L. Dee Fink, Ph.D.
(a) Former Director, Instructional Development Program, University of Oklahoma
(b) Past-President, POD Network
August, 2005

University of Oklahoma, Instructional Development Program

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Suggested citation

Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2020). Major ideas that can empower college teaching. In Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide

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