Our society is placing more and more emphasis on using research to inform the day-to-day functioning of real life. As a self-identified researcher, I’m biased; yet, nevertheless, I applaud this movement. There are other reasons for my appreciation, but one of the most important is that it makes us more effective in all areas, including our teaching. And, one of the simplest (life is complicated enough!) and diverse (got to keep it interesting!) ways to make sure teaching is effective is to organize research-supported techniques into a simple checklist, a teaching methods checklist.
Although there are teaching methods checklists floating around the Internet (such as Checklist #1 and Checklist #2), I wasn’t able to find too many of them, especially those with citations from research to support the inclusion of each item onto the list. So, it may be best, at this time, to create your teaching methods checklist yourself, either as a teacher or a researcher. That way, you’ll know the research that supports each item and have the opportunity to tailor it to your own style. And, there are two broad ways to go about completing this task, targeting methods that are specific to your discipline or general to all teaching.
To locate materials that are specific to your discipline, try looking for information published in course textbooks, academic journals, conference presentations, etc within your field. For example, in psychology, the American Psychological Association has a specific division that is focused on teaching psychology (Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Division 2). Their website and annual conference are great resources for locating materials to include in a teaching methods checklist. They even have a journal dedicated to publishing applicable information (i.e., Teaching of Psychology). As another example, I’ve recently become a fan of open access textbooks. In my favorite so far, an instructor’s manual is also provided. It’s massive, with several guidelines and activities provided for each chapter. And, out of the ones I have read, they are based in work published in academic journals, meaning (hopefully) they have research supporting their practice. But, other textbooks, open access or not, frequently provide ideas for techniques to implement in the classroom if you can get the instructor’s copy. Additional effort may have to be undertaken to ensure the technique is supported by research, if such is available, but at least the idea can be sparked!
However, if discipline-specific techniques are difficult to locate, general teaching resources may be of assistance. Like before, try academic journals (e.g., Higher Education), available books, or even your university’s faculty resource center. Or, the easiest place to start is probably within the material from this class. For example, just look at the other methods listed on the sheet passed around our class for this blog post. They are limited to assessment techniques per the assignment, but those are an important part of teaching techniques. Or, for a broader teaching methods checklist, adapt the books we have read/are reading. Bain (2004) can provide recommendations on how to interact with students. Obviously, Barkley (2009) can provide recommendations on how to engage students. Nilson (2010) can provide recommendations on how to set up a course. And, Angelo and Cross (1993) can provide recommendation on how to use assessment techniques. Of course, much more information is provided in these texts, but I hope the gist is clear. Use general resources, inside or outside of this class, to create a teaching methods checklist.
As soon as the hard work is done and the checklist is created, it’s easy. Simply observe and check which of the list has been accomplished, whether it be in your own course or another course you are evaluating. Or, maybe even better, jot down a few things about the implementation (e.g., reactions of students, ease of use) to give yourself a little field research to update your list as you go along.
In all, teaching checklists are easy ways to keep teaching methods up-to-date in effectiveness. And, for a bonus, if used correctly, they can be included as evidence for a tenure review or other promotion!
Hope you enjoyed the quick overview of this method! Until next time – bye!
P.S. If anyone is interested, as this class has shown me that psychology is quite prevalent in other fields, the open access textbook and its associated instructor’s manual I referenced is found at: nobaproject.com (if you want the instructor’s manual, you must register on the website as an instructor – it’s not difficult, no pro of required).
P.S.S. My apologies for the lateness of this assignment. I was reading the old version of the syllabus, thinking that our final project proposal was due this past weekend, not this one.