Small Teaching

Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning
Standards Information Network (Verlag)
  • 2. Auflage
  • |
  • erschienen am 26. Juli 2021
  • |
  • 288 Seiten
E-Book | ePUB mit Adobe-DRM | Systemvoraussetzungen
978-1-119-75555-5 (ISBN)
A freshly updated edition featuring research-based teaching techniques that faculty in any discipline can easily implement

Research into how we learn can help facilitate better student learning-if we know how to apply it. Small Teaching fills the gap in higher education literature between the primary research in cognitive theory and the classroom environment. In this book, James Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with a series of small but powerful changes that make a big difference many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These are simple interventions that can be integrated into pre-existing techniques, along with clear descriptions of how to do so. Inside, you'll find brief classroom or online learning activities, one-time interventions, and small modifications in course design or student communication. These small tweaks will bring your classroom into alignment with the latest evidence in cognitive research.

Each chapter introduces a basic concept in cognitive research that has implications for classroom teaching, explains the rationale for offering it within a specific time period in a typical class, and then provides concrete examples of how this intervention has been used or could be used by faculty in a variety of disciplines. The second edition features revised and updated content including a newly authored preface, new examples and techniques, updated research, and updated resources.

How can you make small tweaks to your teaching to bring the latest cognitive science into the classroom?
How can you help students become good at retrieving knowledge from memory?
How does making predictions now help us learn in the future?
How can you build community in the classroom?

Higher education faculty and administrators, as well as K-12 teachers and teacher trainers, will love the easy-to-implement, evidence-based techniques in Small Teaching.
2nd Revised edition
  • Englisch
  • USA
John Wiley & Sons Inc
  • Für höhere Schule und Studium
  • Überarbeitete Ausgabe
  • Reflowable
  • 0,56 MB
978-1-119-75555-5 (9781119755555)

weitere Ausgaben werden ermittelt
JAMES M. LANG is Professor of English and Director of the D'Amour Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College. He is the author of five books.
He is a sought-after speaker and workshop leader on teaching and learning in higher education. He writes a monthly column on teaching for The Chronicle of Higher Education, and is a Senior Academic Consultant for OneHE.

About the Author

Preface to the Second Edition

Introduction: Small Teaching

Part One: Knowledge

Chapter One: Predicting

Chapter Two: Retrieving

Chapter Three: Interleaving

Part Two: Understanding

Chapter Four: Connecting

Chapter Five: Practicing

Chapter Six: Explaining

Part Three: Inspiration

Chapter Seven: Belonging

Chapter Eight: Motivating

Chapter Nine: Learning

Conclusion: Beginning



Small Teaching

"Much of what we've been doing as teachers and students isn't serving us well, but some comparatively simple changes could make a big difference." (p. 9)

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

In October 2014, fans of Major League Baseball relished the sight of the plucky Kansas City Royals fighting their way to the final game of the World Series. What captured the attention of so many baseball enthusiasts was that the key to the Royals' success throughout the season had been an old-fashioned approach to the sport called small ball. Rather than relying on muscle-bound sluggers hitting grand slams, the Royals instead utilized the simple, incremental strategies that enable baseball teams to move runners from one base to the next and keep the other team from scoring: bunting, stealing bases, hitting sacrifice fly balls, and playing solid defense. These unglamorous achievements on the field don't win baseball players the accolades that they might earn from smashing game-winning home runs, but teams who play small ball in concerted and effective ways don't need those kinds of dramatic heroics. Indeed, some baseball analysts pointed to the success of the Royals, who achieved their victories on a relatively small budget, as evidence of the future of baseball. "The Royals have found a winning formula," wrote Sean Gregory, the baseball columnist for Time magazine. "These days, if you swing for the fences, you're more likely than ever to strike out. So just put the ball in play.and take your chances with your legs. Steal bases to eke out those diminishing runs. Small-ball is cheap and effective. This is where the game is headed" (Gregory 2014b). As the article notes, the wonderful feature of small ball is that it's both effective and inexpensive-and hence available to everyone. Even teams that spend money on those high-profile sluggers can still play small ball-as was evidenced in the final game of the World Series, in which the bigger-budget San Francisco Giants snatched victory from the Royals by beating them at their own game and scoring two of their three runs on unglamorous sacrifice fly balls (Gregory 2014a).

My own acquaintance with small ball comes from a less dramatic story than the one the Kansas City Royals engineered in fall 2014. I have five children and live in a New England city where love for baseball runs deep. For 15 years I sat on uncomfortable metal benches for 2 months every late spring and watched my children play various levels of softball and baseball in our city leagues. The particular league to which my children belonged was a long-standing one; many of the coaches played in the league when they were children. These coaches frequently took the games quite seriously, perhaps in an effort to recapture the glory of their childhood playing days. As a result, they scouted and selected the best players every year who were coming up from the younger leagues and thus left newer or inexperienced coaches to draft their teams from a much depleted talent pool. Yet, despite the advantages that these more aggressive coaches gained in recruiting the top players, they didn't always win. In little league as in the major leagues, the coaches who seemed to have the greatest success were the ones who focused their attention-and the attention of their players-on mastering all of the small elements of the game. Small-ball coaches would signal their base runners to steal when the fielders were haphazardly tossing the ball around the infield, or they would ensure that someone was always backing up a throw to first base in case the first-base person dropped the ball. Since nobody was bashing home runs out of the park on a softball team of 8-year-olds, small ball represented the only guaranteed strategy for long-term success in these youth leagues.

The idea for this book began to percolate at the end of one of those long softball seasons, as I was preparing for a round of fall visits to other college campuses in support of my previous book, Cheating Lessons, which was focused on how we can reduce cheating and promote academic integrity in higher education. When I first began giving presentations on this topic, I relished the chance to speak to my fellow college and university teachers about major transformations they could make to their courses. Unfortunately, I was usually making such visits during the middle of a semester, which meant that workshop participants had to wait until the following semester to implement any of my suggestions. Even instructors with the best of intentions to revitalize their teaching might find it challenging to carry what they had learned in a two-hour workshop in October to their course planning in January or August, given all the work that would occupy their minds in the interim. More fundamentally, sudden and dramatic transformation to one's teaching is hard work and can prove a tough sell to instructors with so many time-consuming responsibilities. As a working instructor myself, I teach courses in literature and writing every semester, so I know full well the depth of this challenge. As much as I frequently feel the urge to shake up my teaching practices with radical new innovations, I mostly don't. Reconceiving your courses from the ground up takes time and energy that most of us have in short supply in the middle of the semester, and that we usually expend on our research or service work during the semester breaks.

My reflections on this dilemma led me to consider whether I should incorporate into my workshops more activities that instructors could turn around and use in their classrooms the next morning or the next week without an extensive overhaul of their teaching-the pedagogical equivalents, in other words, of small ball. With that prospect in mind, I dove into the literature of teaching and learning in higher education with new eyes, seeking small-ball recommendations that were both easy to implement and well-supported by the research. Over the course of many months this search led me through the work of cognitive psychologists who study the mechanics of learning, to neuroscientists and biologists who helped me understand some basic aspects of brain science, and to research in learning-related fields such as emotions and motivation. I was pleasantly surprised to find in these fields a manageable number of learning principles that seemed readily translatable into higher education classrooms. Gradually I began searching for practical examples of how these principles could operate in the classroom, and I began recommending some of the strategies I was discovering to participants in my workshops. I could feel the energy and excitement rising in the room whenever participants could see a short road between a late afternoon workshop and a concrete and positive change that they could make in their classes the next morning. But nothing made me more interested and excited than the small successes I experienced when I incorporated some of the strategies I had learned about into my own classroom. Over the course of that fall semester, as I both worked on my own teaching and spoke with other instructors about these ideas, I became convinced of the seemingly paradoxical notion that fundamental pedagogical improvement was possible through incremental change-in the same way that winning the World Series was possible through stealing bases and hitting sacrifice fly balls.

This newfound conviction ultimately gave rise to the notion of small teaching, an approach that seeks to spark positive change in higher education through small but powerful modifications to our course design and teaching practices. Small teaching as a fully developed strategy draws from the deep well of research on learning and higher education to create a deliberate, structured, and incremental approach to changing our courses for the better. The past several decades have brought us a growing body of research on how human beings learn, and a new generation of scholars in those fields has begun to translate findings from the laboratories of memory and cognition researchers to the higher education classrooms of today. Their findings increasingly suggest the potency of small shifts in how we design our courses, conduct our classrooms, and communicate with our students. Some of the findings may also suggest pathways to change that arise from dramatic transformation to our courses, and I applaud those innovators who are pointing us down those routes. But if we are seeking to boost our students' learning of course content, to improve their basic intellectual skills-such as writing, speaking, and critical thinking-and to prepare them for success in their careers, then I believe we can find in small teaching an approach to our shared work of educating students that is effective for our students and accessible to the largest number of working college and university teachers.

Widespread accessibility to working teachers matters a great deal, especially if we consider the incredibly diverse range of contexts in which higher education operates these days. Teaching innovations that have the potential to spur broad changes must be as accessible to underpaid and overworked adjuncts as they are to tenured faculty at research universities. They must find a home on the campus of a small liberal arts college as easily as they do on the commuter campuses of regional comprehensives. They must offer something to traditional lecturers in big rooms and to discussion leaders in small seminars. They should be as available to us in ordinary...

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