Category Archives: Pedagogy

“Of the students who report having disabilities, the largest and fastest-growing group is students who have ‘invisible disabilities.’”

One of my greatest challenges as an English instructor is to address the learning needs of students with invisible disabilities, such as anxiety disorders. This population is growing at an astonishing rate. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of college … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Education, when rightly understood, will be found to lie in the art of asking apt and fit questions…”

Bronson Alcott continues, “…and in thus leading the mind by its own light to the perception of truth.”  Using discussion questions to develop ideas instead of using the rote learning method to reinforce “the” right ideas was considered outrageous in … Continue reading

Posted in non-fiction, Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“More often than we think, our limits are self-imposed.”

I once asked the director of our program for non-traditional college students what the biggest challenge was for these students.  Was it ability?  “No,” she said. “It’s their perception of their abilities.  They don’t think they’re smart enough. Then they … Continue reading

Posted in non-fiction, Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The students felt that a few could carry the discussion for the rest of the class . . .

. . . while the majority of students adhered to a ‘norm of silence’ – not perceiving themselves as obligated to participate in the conversation (50).  Jay R. Howard, a sociologist, calls this the norm of “the consolidation of responsibility,” … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Researchers found that students who wrote prolifically before high-stakes performances, like examinations and final papers, significantly improved their performance on their final work” (69).

Interestingly, in this study by Ramirez and Beilock (2011), as summarized by Gary R. Hafer in Embracing Writing, it didn’t matter whether students wrote about the subject matter or about their emotions and anxiety – what mattered was how frequently … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“This all sounds very messy”

What I’m looking for – perhaps what we’re all looking for – are learning principles that are most likely to lead to long-term retention – even if they’re messy. In Small Teaching, Jim Lang describes a learning principle called “interleaving” … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Five Intriguing Ideas from 2016 Books

This blog focuses on one idea from one book each week, and so selecting just five from the 50 or so that I’ve published in 2016 is a challenge. But after looking through them all, I have to say that … Continue reading

Posted in fiction, non-fiction, Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Attributes like confidence, enthusiasm, and likability can be perceived in the briefest of exposures.”

In The Spark of Learning, Sarah Rose Cavanagh describes a study where students were asked to rate professors after seeing 30-second videos of lectures that had no audio. The students’ ratings predicted with surprising accuracy the professors’ actual end-of-semester evaluations. … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

“If anything has been learned from this century of research on learning, it is that learning is not one thing but many things.”

What I love about this book is its informed and nuanced contribution to the “lecture vs. active learning” discussion that has been bubbling up for some time now at college campuses.  The authors say that decisions about teaching methodology must … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 10 Best Books for College Teachers — Part 2

My list of the books that have sparked the biggest changes in how and why I teach continues this week.  What are your favorites?  Share your recommendations in the “Leave a comment” box below or email me at CStover1@madisoncollege.edu. 6. … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 10 Best Books for College Teachers – Part 1

As a college teacher who spent many hours during the last ten years reading books, articles, and conference proposals on the art and science of teaching, I believe that the best books for college teachers are the ones that provide … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Yet we now know that a brief distraction can help when we’re stuck on a math problem or tied up in a creative knot and need to shake free.”

After having read my share of books about learning, I was initially reluctant to read this one because a reviewer said it is a “gift to guilt-ridden slackers everywhere.” Fortunately, it’s the review, not the book, that is misleading about … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“I used to think that if faculty teaching improved, student learning had to follow suit.”

Now, however, Saundra Yancy McGuire believes that even the best teachers will not see the kinds of learning gains that are possible “as long as students do not come to our classrooms prepared to learn efficiently and independently.” This book … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Asking someone to make a prediction represents a very simple route to raising curiosity and hence represents a very simple route to stimulating the brains of our students and preparing them for their learning.”

Can small changes in strategy result in significant improvements?  This new book for college instructors by James M. Lang argues convincingly that they can. While some of the techniques are not new – my mother asked her students to make … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“If we do not consciously and intentionally seek to change the norms in our classrooms, we are likely to find ourselves . . .with students paying only civil attention.”

Sociologist Jay Howard notes that in 1976 researchers Karp and Yoels distinguished between students who paid attention from students who created the appearance of paying attention, which they termed “civil attention.” If you ever had a hard time getting a … Continue reading

Posted in Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment