This is an interesting article about a visit Eric Mazur (he of “peer instruction,” which I discuss here) paid to Vanderbilt University, where the faculty had a chance to experience the “flipped classroom” themselves. One of his key points is that when we consider how we instructors learned to teach, we almost never say that we acquired our knowledge of teaching by passively sitting through lectures, so why do we teach that way? The article also links to a couple videos of Mazur in action.
Last spring, I did a short presentation (on Mazur’s peer instruction) for an event at the University of Chicago’s Center for Teaching and Learning, and afterward, I was recruited to become a Teaching Consultant. As a Teaching Consultant (TC), I am one of a handful of graduate students from across the university who have the opportunity to get together and read and talk about pedagogy. We take the knowledge we glean to help other graduate students in their classrooms through workshops and individual consultations. Yesterday, we met to have a discussion about discussions.
Put that way, the topic of conversation is somewhat amusing (especially when you consider that we tried out the technique of leaderless discussion, during which I had to stop the leaderless discussion to discuss how we were discussing – I think we almost drowned in the recursion). Still, it was an interesting meeting, particularly the input from our TCs in the STEM fields. At first blush, you might think that there is no opportunity for students to discuss in a discipline like computer science. The TC described his class, and described the “discussions” as an opportunity for students to respond to questions and also ask for clarification. In other words, the “discussions” were primarily led only at a level that might help the students to remember and understand their readings, but not achieve the higher levels on Bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains (i.e., application, analysis, evaluation, creation). Continue reading