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Optimizing Teaching and Learning: Practicing Pedagogical Research

ISBN: 978-1-4443-6003-5
256 pages
August 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Optimizing Teaching and Learning: Practicing Pedagogical Research (1444360035) cover image

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is one of the most dynamic areas of research in the field of higher education today in which faculty continuously evaluate the quality of their teaching and its affect on student learning. Faculty are being held accountable for the effectiveness of their teaching and in turn they are starting to engage in SoTL-related intellectual exchanges not only in their research agendas but also in the ways in which they teach their students in the classroom. At the heart of this new movement, there is a simple idea: take a close look at how you teach and how your students learn, use the same methodology that you would use for formal investigations (be it in the humanities or sciences), and hold your research to the same standards most notably peer review.

Optimizing Teaching and Learning will serve as a guide for anyone who is interested in improving their teaching, the learning of their students, and at the same time contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning. It bridges the gap between the research and practice of SoTL, with explicit instructions on how to design, conduct, analyze, and write-up pedagogical research, including samples of actual questionnaires and other materials (e.g., focus group questions) that will jumpstart investigations into teaching and learning. It also explores the advantages and disadvantages of various pedagogical practices and present applications of SoTL using case studies from a variety of disciplines. This book will serve as an invaluable resource for both seasoned faculty and new faculty who are just beginning to assess their teaching methods and learn how to think beyond the content.

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Preface viii

Acknowledgments xiii

1 What Is Pedagogical Research? 1

Multidisciplinary Roots of Pedagogical Research 3

Examining Definitions of Scholarship 4

The Other SoTL: Action Research and Teacher Research 6

Beginnings 8

Why Is Pedagogical Research Important? 11

A Teaching Hierarchy 12

A Caveat 16

How Can Pedagogical Research Be Useful to You? 16

2 Pedagogical Research: Focussing on the Teaching 18

Assessing Our Teaching Effectiveness 20

What Can We Learn from the “Best” College Teachers? 25

Creating your Teaching Philosophy Statement 31

How Do I Teach? 33

Using Teaching Inventories 34

Determining Your Teaching Goals 38

Assessment Tools 43

Alternative Classroom Assessment Techniques 65

Teaching Portfolios 68

Learning to Conduct Pedagogical Research: How to Get Started: Designing Your Pedagogical Research Program 70

Developing Your Research Ideas and Questions 72

Focus on Student Learning: Connecting Your Learning Goals, Assessment Choice, and Teaching Technique 75

Applying the Findings of Your Pedagogical Research: Using General Principles of Learning to Making Changes to Your Teaching Strategies 78

Sharing Your Findings and Connecting with Others in the Field 81

Conclusion 84

Appendix: Examples of Discipline-Specific SoTL Journals 85

3 Pedagogical Research: Focussing on Learning 87

What Do You Want to Find Out? 90

What Do We Know about How Students Learn? 91

Student Engagement: If You Engage Them, They Will Learn 94

How Can You Investigate Your Students’ Learning? 96

How Do Students Study? 103

Metacognition 104

Measuring Study Behaviors 110

Can You Improve Study Skills? 118

Key Psychological Factors Influencing Learning 119

Designing Your Research: How Do You Study Your Students’ Learning? 120

Measuring How Performance on Your Assessments Vary 125

Guidelines for Human Research Participants in SoTL 131

A Further Note on Ethics 132

Conclusions 141

Appendix: Questions on How to Make Cognitive Research Available to Educators 141

4 Is It Significant? Basic Statistics 145

Why Do We Need to Analyze Our Classroom Data? 145

Qualitative or Quantitative? That Is the Question 147

Setting the Stage: Important Background for Measurement and Analyses 149

Two Main Forms of Statistical Analyses: Descriptive Analyses 151

Watching Your Curves 153

Inferential Statistics 154

Software Options 159

Calculating Descriptive Statistics 161

Calculating Inferential Statistics 163

Kicking It Up a Notch: Testing Multiple Factors 164

Conclusions 168

5 Pedagogical Research as Scholarship: Resources for Success 169

Developing a Center with a Focus on SoTL 170

Determining Needs on Your Campus 174

Determining Your Goals: What Is the Purpose of the Center? 175

Guiding Principles when Creating a New Center 178

Creating Programming Initiatives to Achieve Your Goals 183

Mentoring Programs 191

SoTL and Tenure and Promotion 193

The Role of Assessment 195

Sources for SoTL Support or Funding 199

What Else Is Available through Faculty Development Centers? 200

Potential Challenges Identified by Those Who Have Come Before You 201

Appendix: Useful References 203

References 207

Index 222

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Regan A. R. Gurung is Chair of Human Development at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. He has served for many years on the campus Faculty Development Committee and has also been Chair of the same. He is currently campus representative for a CASTL Leadership Site, and is a member of a national taskforce for the scholarship of teaching and learning. He is author of Health Psychology: A Cultural Approach (2006).

Beth M. Schwartz is Professor of Psychology at Randolph College. She is founding director of the Faculty Development Center on her campus. In February 2006, she received the APLS (American Psychology and Law Society) Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring Award.

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"There were several pieces of information that were valuable, even to someone with a different education background. No doubt there is even more valuable information for readers who are not in such a specific specialty as nursing, but instead are education generalists." (Metapsychology, March 2010)

“This book will be an invaluable resource for those faculty who do not know how to get started in SoTL. For faculty who are already involved in SoTL research, the book provides a wealth of research strategies that can provide new research avenues. I can’t wait to have this book on my shelf!”

Randolph A. Smith, Lamar University

“This is a hugely engaging volume which deals with both pedagogical research and findings from the pedagogical research literature. It is highly accessible and the committment of the authors, expressed in their dedication, to those who ‘care about teaching and student learning’ shines through. The best tribute to such a volume is that it will be used and that teacher-researchers will in turn develop their own more nuanced and critical instruments and research questions.”

Sue Clegg, Leeds Metropolitan University

 

Overall, this book provides a great deal of information regarding teaching and learning practices, a pedagogical approach, and a touch of the application of research…Helpful pearls of wisdom within.”

Metapsychology Online Reviews

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