Thursday, August 21, 2014

Intro courses specifically for majors?

My department is revamping its curriculum and is considering adding an intro course specifically for philosophy majors. (This need not be an 'intro' course on either the historical survey or topical smorgasbord model — we'd be open to a seminar for new majors, for instance.) Does anyone out there know of departments that have done this, and what the courses look like?


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quotable teacher, installment 21

Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. Most people learn best by being "with it," yet school makes them identify their personal, cognitive growth with elaborate planning and manipulation.

— Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Monday, August 11, 2014

Call for proposals on inclusive philosophy pedagogy

The American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT) and the American Philosophical Association (APA) Committee on Inclusiveness in the Profession seek proposals for 25-minute presentations to be included in two complementary joint panels to be held at the 2015 APA Central Division meeting, which will occur February 18–21 at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark in St. Louis, Missouri.
The sessions, "Inclusive Philosophy Pedagogy: What Is It and How Do We Achieve It?,” are intended both to theorize (and perhaps problematize) the very notion of inclusive philosophy pedagogy and to provide audience members with tools and resources to help them make their own philosophy pedagogy more inclusive. Thus, both theoretical and practical approaches to the theme are warmly welcomed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Newest issue of Teaching Philosophy

Here she is, in all its summertime glory: Teaching Philosophy, vol. 37, no. 3:

(A reminder: The journal is always looking for excellent contributions on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Submit your manuscript here!)

Vanessa Carbonell
The purpose of this essay is to make the case that the ethical issues raised by the current U.S. practice of direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertising are worthy of study in philosophy courses, and to provide instructors with some ideas for how they might approach teaching the topic, despite the current relative scarcity of philosophical literature published on it. This topic presents a unique opportunity to cover ground in ethics, critical thinking, and scientific literacy simultaneously. As a case study, the practice of DTC advertising is both theoretically rich and universally relevant to students’ lives. The nature of these ads—numerous, diverse, visually and thematically entertaining—makes them delicious fodder for in-class activities, small group work, discussion-based learning, creative projects, and customizable essay topics. I offer a set of suggestions for approaching the study of DTC drug ads that is informed by my own experience doing so in bioethics courses. Ultimately, including this topic on your syllabus not only contributes to students’ philosophical skills and knowledge, but also helps them become better informed as citizens and potential “consumers” of health care.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Is it possible to give too much feedback?

Recently, in the course of a presentation I was giving, I made a statement that is evidently controversial:
Many conscientious instructors give too much feedback to students on their work.

(I'm thinking mainly about student essays here.) Several audience members were taken aback (and this post at Philosophers' Cocoon suggests that at least some philosophers share such sentiments). But in my own defense, here's my rationale.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A non-policy electronic device policy?

The evidence that (a) we simply cannot multitask, and (b) in-class electronic devices probably hurt students as learners more than they help them, continues to mount. This is an issue we've addressed before. What options are there besides an outright ban on devices? One position: "it's you're funeral". Some require students to post their electronic notes. Others try to turn the technology to their advantage, allowing students to send questions electronically.

I'd like to share what I tried this term (and which seemed to work, based on my unsystematic observation):

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Chance to Try Again

This semester I asked students in my classes to give presentations on their papers. I've been very generous in grading these presentations. And I realized that part of the reason I was being so generous was because I was only giving them a chance to present once. In the past, when I've had students present I give them a chance to do it twice and I am much more critical in my grading. This made me think that I operate under the following grading policy: Only grade a particular assignment harshly if students had a chance to try that kind of assignment before. So, for example, if you are going to grade papers harshly, then you should have more than one paper due a term (or a draft in which you give them comments) so students can learn from the mistakes they make the first time around. Thoughts? 

[Edited: The original post didn't quite capture what I meant. Thanks to Sarah Paul for pointing this out.]