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Decoding the Disciplines: Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking: New Directions for Teaching and Learning, Number 98

David Pace (Editor), Joan Middendorf (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-7879-7789-4
128 pages
December 2004, Jossey-Bass
Decoding the Disciplines: Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking: New Directions for Teaching and Learning, Number 98 (0787977896) cover image
The Indiana University Faculty Learning Community realized that the mental operations required of undergraduates differ enormously from discipline to discipline and that these ways of thinking are rarely presented to students explicitly. IUFLC Fellows from fields as diverse as creative writing, marketing, and genetics, and, as knowledgeable about their research areas as few people in the world, began to explore how students learn this content. The Decoding the Disciplines model takes advantage of the differences in thinking among academic fields in order to decode each individual discipline.

Following the model, faculty answered a series of questions to define crucial bottlenecks to learning, dissected the ways an expert deals with the issues that causes the bottleneck, and invented ways to model this thinking for students. After giving students an opportunity to practice these skills and receive feedback, each professor assessed student performance on these basic operations.

Their chapters in this issue of NDTL show faculty in the disciplines as they delved deeply into the specifics of thinking and learning in their disciplines and become involved in the scholarship of teaching and learning. It presents principles for facilitating assessments and a Faculty Learning Community. Institutions are invited to consider the Decoding the Disciplines model as a tool for structuring faculty inquiry into the thinking and learning in their disciplines.

This is the 98th issue of the Jossey-Bass quarterly higher education report New Directions for Teaching and Learning.

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1. Decoding the Disciplines: A Model for Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking (Joan Middendorf, David Pace)
The Decoding the Disciplines model provides a series of steps that help faculty to articulate the kinds of cognitive operations that are fundamental to their disciplines, teach those operations to their students, assess the results, and share them with others.

2. Decoding the Reading of History: An Example of the Process (David Pace)
The steps in the Decoding the Disciplines model are illustrated using the example of teaching students in a history course how to read historical texts.

3. Decoding Genetics and Molecular Biology: Sharing the Movies in Our Heads (Miriam Zolan, Susan Strome, Roger Innes)
Three biology faculty use modeling and other active learning techniques to help their students visualize biological processes.

4. Decoding Astronomical Concepts (Richard H. Durisen, Catherine A. Pilachowski)
The difficulties that these faculty face in conveying complex astrophysical concepts to their students are overcome using the Decoding the Disciplines model.

5. Decoding the Humanities (Tony Ardizzone, Fritz Breithaupt, Paul C. Gutjahr)
Faculty in literature and creative writing courses model how to analyze literary texts and to shift from an expository to a creative mode of writing; they also assess their students’ learning.

6. Learning to Use Evidence in the Study of History (Valerie Grim, David Pace, Leah Shopkow)
These history faculty took different approaches to help their students overcome the bottleneck of how to use evidence to support an argument the way historians do.

7. Decoding Applied Data in Professional Schools (Barry M. Rubin, Shanker Krishnan)
The Decoding the Disciplines model provides strategies that help students learn fundamental principles of statistics and marketing and apply these principles to real-world situations.

8. Using Collaborative Learning Teams to Decode Disciplines: Physiology and History (Whitney M. Schlegel, David Pace)
These faculty describe how collaborative learning can be incorporated into the Decoding the Disciplines model and illustrate how the effects of teamwork on students’ learning can be assessed.

9. Decoding the Assessment of Student Learning (Lisa Kurz, Trudy W. Banta)
This chapter outlines the process of assessing student learning in the Decoding the Disciplines model and defines some principles for encouraging the use of assessment by faculty.

10. Facilitating a Faculty Learning Community Using the Decoding the Disciplines Model (Joan Middendorf)
The Decoding the Disciplines model has grown out of Indiana University’s Faculty Learning Community; the principles that guide that community are described here.

11. Future of Decoding the Disciplines (Joan Middendorf, David Pace)
The authors envision the future directions of the Decoding the Disciplines model and its potential effects on the academy.

INDEX.

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