The Flourishing Academic

A blog for teacher-scholars published by the Duquesne University Center for Teaching Excellence


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Rhetoric, Combs and Rhizomes: Q & A with Dr. Derek Hook (Part II)

hook-headshotarvin-simonby Derek Hook, PhD, Associate Professor in Psychology at Duquesne University & Arvin Simon, MA, Doctoral Student in Psychology at Duquesne University

Derek’s work focuses on psychoanalysis with expertise in the area of critical psychology and psychosocial studies. Arvin is an Instructional Consultant for Teaching Assistants at the Center for Teaching Excellence.

In response to Arvin’s generous characterization of the ‘rhizomatic’ nature of my approach to graduate teaching and in relation to his two direct questions, I (Derek Hook) would like to offer a few brief thoughts. watch

  • I am worried that I won’t have enough time to cover all the material! Is facilitating a discussion an efficient use of my lecture time?

Perhaps not always, but we could reverse the question: surely NOT facilitating a discussion in class is often a bad use of teaching time. This is often the case when the material is overly theoretical, when it contains much that is paradoxical or counter-intuitive, or simply when students (and professors!) are not sure they properly understand the texts in question. Discussions, particularly when paired with the tactic of asking students to frame the inquiry, can be a good way of ensuring that students read in the first place. Through student participation, systematic errors or questionable assumptions can be revealed, then engaged and worked with.

It is a good idea to work with ‘questions from the floor’ and use them to direct students to crucial facets of the text. ‘Preparing to be spontaneous’ is a nice oxymoronic way of framing this approach to teaching: I come prepared (perhaps with some possible talking-points, crucial debates, points of uncertainty, critical challenges, etc.), but keep these in the background until needed, precisely as a way of drawing out crucial facets from what emerges in more general discussion. I also make sure that students have access to scaffolding materials covering the main material (i.e. handouts with summaries of key arguments; schematic, diagrammatic depictions of the material; accessible secondary readings, etc.), which they have in front of them when one decides to risk a slightly more open-ended discussion. This is also the learning environment where I believe teachers learn the most; they are ‘unscripted times’ when teacher and student alike approach a set of ideas from a different set of problems or conceptual concerns.

Constantly asking for examples from students puts them to work on thinking how their lives are – in a manner of speaking – also a topic of learning.

Sometimes the best and most effective practical everyday examples of the ideas in question come from class discussions. I am always on the lookout for fresh examples of key ideas, because they are often what students remember best about a given theoretical notion. Constantly asking for examples from students puts them to work on thinking how their lives are – in a manner of speaking – also a topic of learning. It also means that the learning continues beyond the parameters of the classroom, to the movie theatre, the realm of earlier personal memories, to the realms of fiction and popular culture. Soliciting examples is a great way of prompting discussion and also, importantly, of isolating instructive counter-examples (i.e. pointing to why certain apparent ‘examples’ DON’T work).disc

  • I am concerned that if I lead discussions on difficult topics then students might get offended or offend one another. What can I do to create a conversation that does not shut people down?

in teaching, the basic unit of information should not (at graduate level, anyways) be a fact, an isolated assertion, but rather a tension, a dynamic, a contradiction, a pair of terms, a debate

Perhaps the obvious point is to concede that discussions can be a risk in certain student groups – especially when lengthy and gratuitous tangents seem a strong possibility – and yet they bring the dimension of ‘liveness’ to the classroom, and with it, a sense of the unpredictable and spontaneous. A great deal of emphasis should be placed first though on facilitating trust in a given student group, and avoiding the snooty or judgmental intellectual atmosphere and enabling an atmosphere where everyone can – and should – contribute.

One suggestion here is that in teaching, the basic unit of information should not (at graduate level, anyways) be a fact, an isolated assertion, but rather a tension, a dynamic, a contradiction, a pair of terms, a debate. This may not always be possible, but, this idea can at least frame discussions, so that views and counter-views are taught together in a way that prioritizes the spirit of intellectual debate, of hearing out, of considering unintended consequences, of Devil’s Advocate kinds of arguments. This type of framing also sometimes adds momentum to developing discussions.

It is often a very good move to acknowledge areas of uncertainty, indicating from time to time that one does not completely understand something. It lets students know that they too should be allowed to ‘think out loud’, to extrapolate, guess, take a stab at what some or other evasive or difficult conceptual formulation might mean.  If one can communicate a collaborative ethos or approach to working through materials, this often helps a great deal also. Signaling that we are explorers – and indeed, a team of explorers – of a given theory goes someway to dissipating counter-productive rivalries within a group of learners.


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Rhetoric, Combs and Rhizomes: Q & A with Dr. Derek Hook (Part I)

hook-headshotarvin-simonby Derek Hook, PhD, Associate Professor in Psychology at Duquesne University & Arvin Simon, MA, Doctoral Student in Psychology at Duquesne University

Derek’s work focuses on psychoanalysis with expertise in the area of critical psychology and psychosocial studies. Arvin is an Instructional Consultant for Teaching Assistants at the Center for Teaching Excellence.

For the past four years, I (Arvin Simon) have taken coursework towards my doctorate in clinical psychology. I have also enjoyed wonderful courses on philosophers such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Martin Buber to name a few. Each of my instructors found creative ways of presenting course material to students who did not have a background in philosophy. Dr. Derek Hook was one such instructor who stood out to me in the way he was able to lead instructional, collaborative and engaging discussions.

With Derek’s permission, I have written a reflection on how I experienced his class discussions. Derek was then invited to read my manuscript and respond with his own comments. This intertextual exchange might serve to illustrate how relations of power and knowledge were negotiated both as an object of study in our class (on Michel Foucault) and as a pedagogical discourse that was enacted between instructor and students.

My mentor, Dr. Steve Hansen, shared with me three types of conversations that can occur in a classroom.

comb

A comb conversation

First, there are what he called rhetorical conversations. These are basically instances where the instructor is lecturing at students without giving them the opportunity to meaningfully critique the text or initiate discussions on a topic that interests them. The second type of conversation, comb conversations, frequently occur in classes where personal material is shared. Here, the instructor invites students to respond to the text but conversations are restricted between the instructor and an individual student. Because of mutual vulnerabilities (e.g. not wanting to seem ignorant; sharing personal opinions) the student and instructor may feel safer having a private conversation in the context of a classroom discussion. The third, and most difficult type of conversation to initiate, is a rhizomatic conversation. Eponymously named, the rhizome conversation does not stay fixed between an individual student and instructor. In fact, the conversation may extend in several different directions and involve multiple layers of interactions. These conversations are geared at getting students to engage with a) the material (instructional) b) the instructor (collaborative) and c) each other (engaging). Dr. Kathryn Strom has written extensively about applying the philosophical concept of the rhizome in the classroom.

rhizomeThere were a few things that Derek did very well to create rhizome conversations.

1) He clearly modelled a willingness to learn from both the text and his students. When discussing difficult passages of text, Derek wondered aloud about the ambiguities and contradictions in the text and even shared his own uncertainties as to the meanings. He invited us to collaboratively engage with him in making sense of dense material while also scaffolding our hermeneutics within social and historical contexts. This is consistent with rhizomatic conversations that aim to be transparent about the way that knowledge is formulated and the effects that it has within academia and the broader social-cultural context.

2) By incorporating written reflections with close, textual analysis Derek was able to invite students who would not ordinarily speak in class to share their thoughts. Derek seemed to always hear student opinions in a generous light and recognized that we might not be experts on the material but we had very worthy ideas that could be fruitfully related to the class. Rhizomatic conversations are horizontal (vs. hierarchical, vertical) in nature and invite collaborative and open-ended inquiry into complex subject matter where linear, authoritative knowledge is often subjective or incomplete.

3) Derek encouraged us to make the material our own by relating it to examples of our own clinical work or scholarship. Rhizomatic conversations are often interdisciplinary and recognize multiple intersecting lines (e.g. politics, economics, ecology) that each bring a different perspective to bear.

desks

Part I of this post concludes by inviting Derek to respond, in Part II, to two common concerns instructors might have in leading rhizomatic conversations:

  • I am worried that I won’t have enough time to cover all the material! Is facilitating a discussion an efficient use of my lecture time?
  • I am concerned that if I lead discussions on difficult topics then students might get offended or offend one another. What can I do to create a conversation that does not shut people down?


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Representation Matters

IMG_4948by Taylor Cavalovitch, a recent graduate from Duquesne University’s School of Education. Taylor was this year’s recipient of the Award for Undergraduate Research offered through the Center for Teaching Excellence.  He was recognized for is research project, “Representation Matters: How Representation in Children’s Literature Influences Children of Different Ethnicities,” presented at the 2016 Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium.

Representation Matters

In a society where all students are subjected to watching and reading the same stories about white men, why and how can educators break past this single story narrative and share the manifold stories of our diverse student population? As a future educator, I have seen firsthand the lack of a diverse curriculum being taught in our schools. Through this realization and reflecting on my own schooling, I wanted to gain insight on how I can better serve my students, understanding that they too come from various backgrounds.  With the help of my professor, Dr. Sandra Quiñones, I was able to develop an action research project that I hoped would improve the engagement of a student from a non-dominant population. The idea for this project was cultivated over the course of an eight-week field placement in a first grade classroom at a suburban Pittsburgh school.

Through my initial observations, I noticed that my host teacher was selecting literature that represented the dominant population: the white students. While this was not a conscious decision my host teacher made, I could tell that three students who were part of non-dominant groups, Venezuelan, Korean, and Chinese, were tired of hearing the stories of one group. In particular, I noticed that my student participant, the student from Venezuela, was much more disengaged than his fellow classmates. I believed it was because this was his first year in the United States and his first experience being under-represented in a classroom. To test my hunch that under-representation and internalized oppression might be the reason for his disengagement, I showed my student participant two pictures, one of Joe Biden and the other of Leopoldo López, and asked him who he thought the smart man was. He selected Joe Biden; although, he was unable to provide a rational reason for his selection.

To positively impact his engagement and self-perception, I decided to read children’s literature that represented this student during the read-aloud portion of the day. As I was searching for appropriate literature, I found texts about Venezuelan culture but had difficulty finding a text that focused on a Venezuelan main character. Therefore, I decided to select the children’s book Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales; a book about a boy from Mexico pretending to wrestle his toys as his twin sisters slept. I thought this title would be a perfect choice due to it mostly being about the imagination of a young boy. However, I did make the decision to adapt the book to make the boy from Venezuela instead of Mexico. During my reading, the student was unable to take his eyes off me. When I asked a discussion question, his hand was the first hand raised.

The following week, I decided to read the book Dream Carver by Diana Cohn; once again, I needed to adapt this book to better represent my student participant. As with my previous read-aloud, the student was much more engaged with the text because the book acted as a mirror, my student participant could see himself in the text.  I then revisited my “Who is smarter?” question. This time, however, he selected Leopoldo López to be the smarter man. I believe that since my student participant was able to see himself represented in the classroom, he then in turn believed that Leopoldo López could be smarter than Joe Biden. My student participant and I developed what I would call an authentic relationship, because he could tell that I took a genuine interest in his culture; therefore, validating his existence in the classroom.

But my student participant was not the only one who benefited from this exposure these books. The other students were able to experience a perspective other than their own, and truly appreciate a different story. I believe that representation encompasses many facets of students’ lives: their linguistic and cultural background, gender identity, sexuality, differences in physical and mental abilities, family dynamics, etc. No student should feel lesser because they may appear to be different. As educators it is our responsibility to value and validate each and every one of our students. Representation matters, and it does play a pivotal role in students’ self-worth and engagement.


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Teachers as Learners

By Elizabeth Pask, M.S. Ed. and current doctoral student in Duquesne University’s School of Education

“Your life as a teacher begins the day you realize you are always a learner.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

-Robert John Meehan

How can I teach when I’m still a student myself?  How can I train others in a field I am still learning about? These are questions I pondered as I embarked on my first university teaching experiences at Duquesne.  As a current doctoral student in the field of school psychology, I wondered whether or not I had any expertise, any skill, or even any right to take on the responsibility of training and teaching other students in my field.

I am fresh out of classes and currently on my clinically based internship experience, and also very new to both being a practitioner and teaching at the university level.   As I reflected back on my own graduate school experiences, memories of theories, laws, textbook readings, and case studies were some of the strategies from my foundational courses that were useful in helping me learn how the field ideally works.  The most helpful learning experiences, however, were just that: experiences.   A recent writer for The Flourishing Academic, Dr. Susan Hines, wrote that the best teaching and learning for new and experienced teachers alike happens when you create an experience.  This is what I have been living since school got out, and this is what I have capitalized on in order to inform teaching in my courses.

The last year of my training program is all clinical, real-life experience.  I am actually working as a practitioner in my field, which had initially seemed like an eternity away when I was first starting out.  I am finding that those theories which seem old and dusty in their books are real, and are also not as neatly applied in the trenches as they initially seemed.  I have been learning through my clinical experiences that applying what you learn in the classroom is sometimes messy when the nuances of reality come into play.  For example, students do not fit neatly into special education eligibility categories like they sometimes did in the case studies that were presented in class.  In another instance, nobody ever really discussed what to do after you realize too late that a previously undiscovered complex trauma history was interfering with a child’s abilities to perform well or what implications that has on the way you’re assessing or treating that student.

This reflection and new clinical experience was what helped me to shape my teaching approach.  I wanted to dust off those theories, get them out of their books, and practice them with my students.  I realized that I have the perfect opportunity to do so in this training year.  I am able to use actual instances, complex cases, and my own mistakes to create applied, field based experiences to use as a major teaching tool.  I realized that I could use my own learning and growing process and translate it to a practical experience.  I also quickly realized that my students and I were learning together.

As a result of being able to use my clinical experience, my philosophy of teaching has been shaped into an action-oriented one, in which I ensure an understanding of theoretical groundwork for the course, provide structured and supervised practice, and assess using real life applications.  I believe that sufficient knowledge of theory is imperative for foundational understandings of the world of education at any level; however, I have often found that theory is lost without application and action, which includes both knowledge and skills that later foster and cultivate practice in the ‘real world.’

Instead of feeling less able because I’m still “just a student,” I embraced the opportunities I had and translated them into learning tools for all of us.  I was fortunate to make this realization at the outset of my teaching career.  My unique position as a practitioner who teaches will always afford me the opportunity to keep being a student so that I can continue using my practical experience to teach other future leaders in the field.

Now it’s your turn: in the comments below I invite you to share a “real-life” experience that both complicated and deepened the knowledge you teach in the classroom.


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My Secret Weapon to Creating Effective Learning Experiences

This week we welcome  our first guest blogger, Dr. Susan Hines of St. Mary’s University of Minnesota! In October 2014 Dr. Hines traveled to Duquesne University for a workshop on designing effective adult learning experiences. You can see a synopsis of highlights from that workshop in an earlier Flourishing Academic post. Today we’re excited to offer you a post written by Dr. Hines herself! Here she gives us concrete ideas about how we achieve effective learning outcomes.

By Sue Hines, Ed.D., Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and TeachingSusan Hines
Associate Professor in Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

There is a well-kept secret that I believe needs to be shared with educators around the world.  I’ve known about this secret for well over a decade and have used it in all my courses and faculty development workshops.  It has resulted in high ratings from my learners and effective learning outcomes.  Whenever I use this secret “weapon”, I can see that they “get it”. How? I see it happen in front of my eyes.  It doesn’t matter if we’re face-to-face or online.  The result is the same.  Learning happens and I see it.

So what is this secret weapon?  I’ll tell you. But you have to promise to pass it on to all the teachers you know.  We can’t keep it secret anymore. Shift from planning what to teach to planning an experience. A learning experience has 4 parts: awaken current knowledge, add new knowledge, practice new knowledge, and apply new knowledge. Sounds simple? Well it is.  It’s also fun to create and even more fun to implement.

Here’s an example.  Imagine you’re teaching a course called Introduction to Management. The topic for next week’s class is management styles. The learning goal for the class is “to be able to analyze and apply management styles.” You need to have a learning goal for my now-not-so-secret weapon to work.

First, awaken the learners’ current knowledge about the topic. Doing so allows you to draw out what they already know and begin to make meaning through their knowledge. This can be done in a variety of ways. For this example, ask the learner’s to write a response to the following question, “Think of a great manager you worked for. What made her so great?” After writing their response, have the students pair up and discuss, then share out as a large group. Capture the key ideas on the board.  I typically mind map their responses. Then debrief on the “findings” to discover key themes being sure to tie it back to the topic and the assigned readings.  It never fails; the knowledge they already have dovetails nicely with the principles you’re trying to teach.

Second, add new knowledge. Now that the “pump is primed,” immerse the students into the key concepts and skills you want to add to their current knowledge. One way to do this is break the class into small groups. Assign each group a management style from the readings. Ask them to create and share out a 5-minute mini-presentation on their assigned management style. Debrief after the presentations being sure to pull out the main ideas and facilitate corrections in thinking when necessary. However you when add new knowledge, the key is have the students involved in teaching the process. Avoid lecturing as much as possible.

The third step is allow time to practice. Given their new knowledge on management styles, give the class a scenario of a real world management challenge. Have each small group develop an approach for addressing the challenge using their previously assigned management style.  Share out to the class. Afterwards, facilitate a class critique of each group’s work. Practice is essential for embedding and guiding newly gained knowledge.

Lastly, have the learners apply their new knowledge. It’s best to apply the learning to an upcoming assignment. Ask them to write a brief reflection on how the management styles apply to their personal roles and rationale. This reflection will be applied to their Management Profile paper that is due in two weeks. Application of the new knowledge is critical for transferring new knowledge to relevant contexts.

I have used this learning experience design for 60-minute to 5-hour sessions.  The key is to adjust each phase to the time allowed.

Now for my final secret. If you are from the field of education or psychology, you probably figured out this approach is a simplification of David Kolb’s experiential model.  Kolb reminds us that humans naturally learn through life experiences. So why not teach our learners in a way that mirrors how we naturally learn.

 

 


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The Pygmalion Effect

By Dr. Steven Hansen, Associate Director for Faculty Development at the Duquesne University Center for Teaching Excellence

Image courtesy of Self Leadership International at selfleader.com.

Image courtesy of Self Leadership International at selfleader.com.

I’m saddened whenever I hear a group of faculty members complaining about the abilities of today’s students. While I realize students are not flawless paragons of learning and that honesty about the challenges students bring to learning is necessary to address the current situation, I also know that how I think about students and their abilities influences how I teach them. Be careful of those jaded student-bashing conversations, not because students are perfect, but because research shows that your perceptions about students’ abilities influence how you act toward them.

The work of Rosenthal and Jacobsen (1968), among others, shows that teacher expectations influence student performance. Positive expectations influence performance positively, and negative expectations influence performance negatively. Rosenthal and Jacobson originally described the phenomenon as the Pygmalion Effect.

“When we expect certain behaviors of others, we are likely to act in ways that make the expected behavior more likely to occur”  (Rosenthal and Babad, 1985).

In terms of teaching, faculty who gripe about students establish a climate of failure, but faculty who value their students’ abilities create a climate of success. What kind of learning climate are you creating through your expectations?

Pygmalion in Tradition

Pygmalion in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Book X) was a sculptor who fell in love with an ivory statue of his own making. Enamored by the beauty of his own making, Pygmalion begs the gods to give him a wife in the likeness of the statue. The gods grant the request, and the statue comes to life. George Bernard Shaw adopted Pygmalion for the title of his play about Professor Henry Higgins whose sense of self-efficacy is grandiose:  “You see this creature with her curbstone English . . . in three months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party.”

Pygmalion Research in the Classroom

The original research of Rosenthal and Jacobsen focused on an experiment at an elementary school where students took intelligence pre-tests. Rosenthal and Jacobsen then informed the teachers of the names of twenty percent of the students in the school who were showing “unusual potential for intellectual growth” and would bloom academically within the year. Unknown to the teachers, these students were selected randomly with no relation to the initial test. When Rosenthal and Jacobson tested the students eight months later, they discovered that the randomly selected students who teachers thought would bloom scored significantly higher. Rosenthal insists that the Pygmalion effect also applies to higher education: There’ve been experiments looking at college algebra classes at the Air Force Academy, a study of undergraduates in engineering; there’ve been lots of studies at the college level since the book came out confirming the findings . . . In fact, the original research conducted when I was at the University of North Dakota was all done with graduate students and under-graduates (Rhem, 1999). Why does the Pygmalion effect occur? “If you think your students can’t achieve very much, are not too bright, you may be inclined to teach simple stuff, do lots of drills, read from your notes, give simple assignments calling for simplistic answers”  (Rhem, 1999).

Pygmalion on the Department Level

Susan McLeod argues that the Pygmalion effect can infiltrate departments. She describes the potential impact on a composition writing program where the faculty have developed a culture of low expectations, “Departments and institutions develop their own cultures; the prevailing attitudes of teachers toward students tend to become organizational norms. If most teachers in the department have a low sense of efficacy and tacitly agree that certain groups of students (sometimes even all students) can’t learn to write, then newcomers are pressured to accept the same low sense of efficacy and accompanying low expectations” (McLeod, 1995).

Practical tips:

1. Never forecast failure in the classroom. If you know a test is particularly difficult, tell your students that the test is difficult but that you are sure that they will do well if they work hard to prepare.

2. Do not participate in gripe sessions about students. Faculty members who gripe about students are establishing a culture of failure for their students, their department and their own teaching.

3. Establish high expectations. Students achieve more when faculty have higher expectations. When you give students a difficult assignment, tell them, “I know you can do this.” If you genuinely believe that your students cannot perform the assignment, postpone the assignment and re-teach the material.

Sources:

  • McLeod, Susan. “Pygmalion or Golem? Teacher Affect and Efficacy.” College Composition and Communication 46 (3): 369-386.
  • Rhem, James. “Pygmalion in the classroom” NTLF 8 (2): 1-4.
  • Rosenthal, R, and L. Jacobsen. Pygmalion in the classroom: teacher expectation and pupils’ intellectual development. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968.
  • Rosenthal, R., and E. Y. Babad. 1985. Pygmalion in the gymnasium. Educational Leadership 43 (1): 36–39.


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The Best of Teaching What You Don’t Know

 By Rachel Luckenbill, Instructional Consultant for TAs at Duquesne University

Whether you’re a tenured faculty member, junior faculty, adjunct or TA you’ve most likely had the experience of teaching something that was new to you. In fact, according to Therese Huston, author of Teaching What You Don’t Know, it’s becoming increasingly common for instructors to be called upon to teach outside of their expertise (5).

I recently led a book study on this text. In today’s post I want to share what the book study participants (10 TAs from across the University) most appreciated about Teaching What You Don’t Know, including some of the book’s strength and best teaching advice:

1. Huston uses a strong positive tone: Teaching can be an anxiety-producing exercise, especially when it involves teaching unfamiliar content. Book study participants appreciated Huston’s continually positive approach. Her book is optimistic and encouraging, acknowledging both the difficulties of teaching new material, while also emphasizing the benefits. Huston makes a good coach for instructors at any level.

2. It’s okay to be a “content novice”: Huston assures us we’re not alone when we feel self-conscious or troubled about being a “content novice” as opposed to a “content expert” in the classroom. She acknowledges that while some faculty members teaching outside their expertise feel like an “imposter” (38), the experience has its benefits for both students and instructors. For example, research suggests that content novices tend to explain processes in greater detail than experts who gloss over steps that they have come to view as common sense (47).

3. Details and specifics: Teaching What You Don’t Know isn’t theory-heavy. Huston’s assertions are supported by ample research but she focuses primarily on offering specific concrete strategies including an extensive list of activities designed to optimize time and content in the classroom for the greatest learning gains. Huston even identifies how long it will take to prepare and implement each activity (see chapter 5).

4. Lecture versus learning environment: The book argues that “creating a learning environment” is more effective than “teaching as telling” (41-43). Huston acknowledges that content novices tend to lean too heavily on lecture because it’s safer than encouraging discussion or activities that might put instructors in a situation where they have to confront questions on unfamiliar content. But she also provides a list of strategies to help integrate active learning into the midst of lectures so that classroom content is delivered in a variety of ways to optimize student engagement and learning (see chapter 5).

5. The emergency assessment kit: This is one specific strategy that book study participants especially appreciated. We’ve all had experiences where we suddenly realize there are still 10 or 15 minutes left in class but we’ve said all that there is to say for the day. Huston describes an “emergency assessment kit”: an activity that the instructor prepares ahead of time and can be easily implemented in any class. This might be as simple as having students check each other’s notes to make sure they wrote down all the important information from the class. Another idea she suggests is an informal assessment activity where the students are asked to offer feedback about the most useful and least useful classroom practices the instructor employed (131-132).

The consensus? Teaching What You Don’t Know is worth the read no matter how seasoned of an instructor you are. The book is a confidence-builder, designed to help faculty and TAs gain the skills and perspective they need to teach content they’ve recently learned to a room full of expectant students.