Aracelie_Reading Log_2 Feb

Posted by on January 31, 2010 
Filed under Reading logs

In this week’s readings, both McKinney and Bass discuss the problem in teaching.  I found myself nodding more when reading Bass’ article than when reading McKinney’s chapter.   While McKinney’s chapter three addresses how to identify a problem and the steps to begin developing a SoTL project, Bass delves into the connotation and resulting use of the word problem within the academic arena.

In his first paragraph, Bass addresses how a problem in teaching is something that requires fixing or cleanup, whereas in research it is an invitation for insight.  He points out that problems should be used as starting points for continuous investigation in the scholarship of teaching, but the way teaching is defined needs to be expanded in order for it to be subjected to ongoing investigation.  He goes on to address the five elements Schulman described:  vision, design, interactions, outcomes, and analysis.  And just as we discussed last week about how it serves little purpose to continue to teach in a way where you know what the outcomes will be almost every time, Bass mentions “interactions that …result in both expected and unexpected results” (p2).

As the article goes on we learn that Bass experienced his own problem, but rather than simply attempt to find a solution to it, he chose to use it to find out more about “how students came to know the material” (p3) he taught them.  This is one of the questions that drew me to the DA program in Community College Education.  I, too, want to know what it is that makes students, adults in particular, learn the way they do.  I want to learn what a teacher would look for to know that students are not just “mimicking” all they have heard or read, but truly learned skills and/or information that they can apply at another time and in a different environment.   Bass says on p3 that he “…had taught mostly the way I had been taught, and tended to replicate the pedagogies that worked best – quite frankly – on me (or slight variations of me).”  I conduct a great deal of on-the-job training, and I am aware that not everyone learns the way I do, but it does not necessarily mean I teach much differently than the way I have been taught.  It is not something I would have considered had I not read that statement in this article.  I will have to think about it more and pay attention the next time I do any deskside training.

The final piece of the article to capture my attention was his attempt to make a distinction between a great book and an important book.   I actually laughed out loud because before he points out it wasn’t just a flaw in his communication skills, I thought to myself, “Know your audience.  Freshman students probably aren’t going to see any difference between great and important”.  As we have discussed in class, knowing the backgrounds of your audience, in this case, the students, is key in pursuing a scholarship of teaching.

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