Effective Teaching

Effective Teaching

Sophia J. Sweeney, Katherine E. Winsett
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2410-7.ch011
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This chapter addresses active learning, one type of student-centered learning, as a paradigm for effective teaching based on the science of learning. Some of the elements for active learning as well as the research supporting these approaches are summarized for non-instructional professionals at colleges and universities. The chapter includes a discussion of how administrators and other college and university professionals can support effective teaching and student success. In order to create a culture of active learning, faculty need resources and professional support for making the shift to active learning. They also must be able to rely on other professionals within the institution to support the learning process and the work done by faculty and students within this process.
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Effective teaching leads to learning. This definition of teaching is a simple, but not an easy one. The execution of effective teaching is broad, diverse, complex, and creative. However, what all of the pieces have in common is the student learns something, and hopefully learns it in a way it can be useful knowledge in a future course, task, occupation, pursuit of an avocation, or conversation. A growing body of research and the wisdom of effective teachers describes the learning environment in which student learning occurs. In short, the students and their brains are at the center of effective teaching. This chapter will share details of this learning environment and provide some thoughts on how to expand the culture of active learning across higher education.

Emphasis on Student Learning

The assessment movement in the United States began in the mid-1980s in response to calls from the government for more accountability for the federal dollars invested in public institutions of higher education (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983; Tam, 2014). Other stakeholders, such as policymakers, governing boards, and parents have increasingly demanded more transparency (Miller, 2016). As state funding for higher education dwindles, states have increasingly shifted from input and process-based to output and outcomes-based funding models. Input and process-based models use metrics such as faculty credentials, faculty to student ratios, and selectivity of students admitted to determine funding formulas. Outcomes-based funding models are concerned with outputs and outcomes that can be measured such as retention, completion rates, and even earnings of graduates (Miller, 2016). A concern about the productivity-focused outcomes model is that these measures may result in less emphasis on quality.

While there is lively discussion about what constitutes quality in higher education and what metrics are appropriate for measuring it, policymakers, researchers, and those engaged in the daily work of higher education are far from reaching consensus. Regardless, few would disagree that higher education is in the business of teaching and learning and those involved in the process are concerned about the quality of instruction in the classroom. In the early 1990s, outcomes-focused curriculum began to emerge as an indicator of quality programs in higher education in the U.S., and this mindset has increasingly been adopted internationally (Tam, 2014). The pressure to provide direct evidence of student learning aligned with student learning outcomes positively impacts classrooms when faculty and leadership critically examine the effectiveness of teaching approaches on learning.


Learner-Centered Instruction

The role of the instructor is shifting from an expert who transmits knowledge (teacher-centered instruction) to a facilitator of the learning process and curator of content (student-centered instruction) (Alexander et al., 2019). Higher education institutions that are committed to learner-centered instruction consider the attributes and needs of the student body. Higher education is increasingly diverse, and this learner diversity provides strengths and challenges to the college or university experience.

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