Teaching Philosophy

I believe learning takes place in a social constructivist framework which implies my role as an educator is to empower and motivate students to build their own understanding of a subject. My main ideas behind this were formed from reading [1].

Further to this, I believe it is important to be able to offer a rationale for all my pedagogic practice. Using a particular approach because of a traditional context is not a sufficient and valid reason. This does not preclude my use of traditional methods. An excellent text regarding evidence based practice in learning is [2] (a book I would recommend to all students).

Based on a wide range of evidence (for example [3, 4]) I aim to create an active learning framework in my courses. My favored definition of active learning is from [4]:

"Active learning is generally defined as any instructional method that engages students in the learning process. In short active learning requires students to do meaningful learning activities and think about what they are doing."

My classes are a flipped learning environment [5] making use of web technologies for the transfer of content ensuring class meetings can be used appropriately for:

Whilst these approaches are not traditional they constitute evidence based practice [2, 3, 4, 6] and I hope that one day they will in fact be traditional.

There might be some doubt as to the effectiveness of active learning approaches: for example [7] is a paper where no specific effectiveness of active learning was found in a particular class. Inciting curiosity and engagement are still known to be beneficial to students' learning. Indeed in [8] the greatest predictors of academic performance are identified not as general intelligence [9], but personality factors such as conscientiousness and openness. Thus my main role and indeed responsibility is to help students gain an interest and enthusiasm for the subject. This is something I continuously strive to get better at.

Furthermore, I am conscious that some students would feel excluded by my approaches. Indeed: a lifetime of education in passive learning environments is not something that will be immediately broken, thus:

I aim to continuously reflect on my practice, for example publishing peer reviewed articles such as [10]. Importantly, as in all evidence based practice, when the evidence indicates that I should change my practice: I will.

References

  1. Jordan, Anne, Orison Carlile, and Annetta Stack. Approaches to learning: a guide for teachers: a guide for educators. McGraw-Hill Education (UK), 2008.
  2. Brown, Peter C., Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel. Make it stick. Harvard University Press, 2014.
  3. Freeman, Scott, et al. "Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.23 (2014): 8410-8415.
  4. Prince, Michael. "Does active learning work? A review of the research." Journal of engineering education 93.3 (2004): 223-231.
  5. Talbert, Robert. Flipped Learning: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty. Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2017.
  6. Hake, Richard R. "Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses." American journal of Physics 66.1 (1998): 64-74.
  7. Andrews, T. M., et al. "Active learning not associated with student learning in a random sample of college biology courses." CBE-Life Sciences Education 10.4 (2011): 394-405.
  8. Poropat, Arthur E. "Other-rated personality and academic performance: Evidence and implications." Learning and Individual Differences 34 (2014): 24-32.
  9. Spearman, Charles. "'General Intelligence', objectively determined and measured." The American Journal of Psychology 15.2 (1904): 201-292.
  10. Knight, Vincent. "Playing Games: A Case Study in Active Learning Applied to Game Theory." MSOR Connections 14.1 (2015): 28-38.

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