Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Weir on lecture shakeups

Rob Weir at Inside Higher Ed has a nice set of tips to enliven class lectures and presentations. He calls them examples of "didaction" that combine instructor exposition or content and student action. It's definitely a list to check out (though in some cases, it may be hard to apply the suggestions to philosophy: Weir mentions "demonstrating a concept" that was just explained -- is this what we philosophers do with examples?)

One thing I noticed: Several of the techniques are ways of involving students that invite them to participate in contexts where there's little pressure for them to provide a right answer: brainstorming, etc. I've often thought that one factor that suppresses student participation in philosophy classes is that students are very accustomed to participating in discussion, etc. by giving the right answer but feel ill-equipped to participate in the more open-ended, investigative discussions that often take place in philosophy classes, where "right answers" are in short supply. It'd be great to have a set of techniques that work around this student anxiety.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is pretty closely related: a strategy I recently initiated in my Applied Ethics courses is going very, very well: Peer Instruction. I learned about it when I began subscribing online to the Teaching Philosophy journal, several weeks ago.

    The article is called "Using Peer Instruction to Teach Philosophy, Logic, and Critical Thinking" by Sam Butchart, Toby Handfield, and Greg Restall.

    I just submitted a post tonight about using the strategy in my campus classes, on my own blog. I would be very curious to know if any of you have used this strategy in your classes. If yes, how'd it go?


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