Teaching Resources

Looking for some new ideas for the classroom? Or just interested in following the conversations on instructional practices?

This page has resources that range from the practical to the theoretical, from the personal to the institutional to the global.

Podcasts? We’ve got that.

Quick tricks for deepening student learning? Yep.

Some good beach reading? Well . . . not really . . . but we do have some books you’re not going to want to miss!

Teaching and Learning Podcasts

Teaching in Higher Ed with Bonnie Stachowiak

Short, thoughtful conversations covering virtually any topic in higher ed you can imagine. Every episode includes recommendations from both host and guests. Links included. Smart, with a good dose of humanity and humor.

Leading Lines: A Podcast on Education Technology

The subtitle here is inaccurate. Yes, Derek Bruff and his colleagues at Vanderbilt cover tech, but they go way beyond that. Nearly 100 episodes, each about an hour, covering everything from Reacting to the Past to digital pedagogy to biodiversity informatics to open universities.

Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning

Hosted by the Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning, this podcast explores “dead ideas”—that is, widely held but largely inaccurate beliefs about effective teaching and learning. Most episodes feature a panel discussing a single topic—inclusion, technology, community. Recent episodes tend to focus on social justice and pandemic-related pedagogies. If you’re looking for other topics, go back a little further.

Tea for Teaching

This podcast is a series of informal discussions of innovative and effective practices in teaching and learning. This podcast series is hosted by John Kane (an economist) and Rebecca Mushtare (a graphic designer) who run the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at SUNY-Oswego.

Hidden Brain

Slightly less related to teaching in higher ed, but invaluable nonetheless.

Though Hidden Brain isn’t specifically focused on teaching and learning, it’s always interesting and many of the discussions inform our understanding of how cognition works—and how we can consequently better design our classes to leverage better learning.

Gastropod

Completely unrelated to teaching, but a great listen!

This podcast, focusing on the science and history of food, is smart, well-written, and incredibly informative. Yeah, we know it doesn’t have anything to do with most of our work, but it’s important to relax every once in a while, right? And if, while relaxing, we can learn a little bit, that never hurts! Give it a try. If you’re into food, or history, or science, or, well: life, there’s something here for you.

Teaching and Learning Blogs

Yes, blogs are so 2016, but you won’t regret diving into—or even just wading into—these:

Agile Learning

Agile Learning comes from Derek Bruff, executive director of the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching and author of Intentional Tech and Teaching with Classroom Response Systems. Scroll to the lower right-hand side of the page and click on any topic to find multiple thoughtful, engaging posts. Bruff is a strong writer, an innovative thinker, and an all-around-smart teacher.

ChickChat

Nancy Chick is a force of nature: her thinking and writing covers almost every topic in higher ed and her voice is heard and respected in the U.S. and internationally. She’s fearless and humane, and always always does her research. Honestly, one wonders when (or if) she sleeps. There’s a ton of material here, but if you want more, be sure to check out her old blog, The Mindful Ph.D.

Crosscurrents: The K. Patricia Cross Academy

This is a great site if you’re at the beginning stages of a new initiative—bringing metacognition into your classes, for instance, or thinking about how to get students to transfer more information from one class to another. Though the actual blog posts are small in number, the site as a whole as a lot of other resources, including videos and downloadable templates to help you work through new ideas.

Robert Talbert, Ph.D.

Okay, so maybe not the best name for a blog, but . . . what a blog. Talbert covers everything: direct methods in the classroom, high-ranging concepts, the broader contexts that inform the work that we do. He’s willing to ask some challenging questions about why we do what we do the way we do—and then to explore other possibilities. This is a wonderfully thoughtful resource.

Notable Books in Teaching and Learning
(and Higher Ed more generally)

Please note: The Harte Center has copies of many of these books available for you to peruse. Contact bwright@wlu.edu to ask about any of the titles below. If you like it, keep it. If you give it a look and discover it’s not for you, just return it so that we can share it with someone else.

Susan Ambrose et. al., How Learning Works

This book summarizes seven key learning principles: prior knowledge, knowledge organization, motivation, mastery, practice and feedback, course climate, and self-directed learning. For each chapter, the book provides an overview of the research, as well as several classroom-ready ideas. Because the book provides both theory and practice, the ideas here are easy to translate to different contexts and classes.

Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber, The Slow Professor

Seeber and Berg are less focused on how to than on a bigger question: why are our jobs so overwhelming—and is there anything we can do about it? This thought-provoking book explores all aspects of our careers in higher ed—from teaching to research to committee work. Short and powerful.

Susan Blum et. al., Ungrading

Chances are that you’re heard rumors about this book. And you may have suspicions: ungrading is about lowering standards. Ungrading means no final grades, ever. Ungrading is for slackers—both students and faculty. No, actually: ungrading is about finding ways to ensure that students can focus on and benefit from their learning, rather than be distracted by (there’s research on this) the often arbitrary (and research on this, too), historically constructed (research) shortcut known as grades. With a forward by Alfie Kohn, this is a book that will give you pause—and then provide you with a variety of ways to re-examine your evaluation practices.

Derek Bruff, Intentional Tech

Bruff visited W&L virtually in March of 2021 as part of a reading group around this book. Bruff argues that tech shouldn’t be the driver: learning should. Which seems obvious, but often gets lost in the shuffle as we encounter new tools that seem to hold infinite promise for the classroom. Bruff builds his thinking around seven principles, and includes both engaging stories and lots and lots of practical ideas.

Sarah Rose Cavanagh, The Spark of Learning

Cavanagh is a psychologist, a professor, and an educational developer at Assumption University. Spark focuses on all the affective aspects of our work with students: motivation, curiosity and persistence. Cavanagh’s style is funny and engaging. She knows her research, and is able to provide examples that are both informative and easy to implement.

Cathy N. Davidson, The New Education

Davidson begins by pointing out that many—or even most—of the structures and practices we take as natural and organic are in fact historically constructed and, in many cases, not particularly effective in advancing either student learning or the university mission more broadly. From there, Davidson organizes her thinking around a variety of challenges and solutions in wide-ranging explorations that refuse to settle on easy answers (she has, for instance, chapters arguing both “for” and “against” technology in the classroom).

James Lang, Small Teaching

Lang is arguably the biggest star in teaching and learning these days, and almost entirely because of this book. Lang’s argument is simple: very small changes to our teaching practices can have an oversized impact on the learning of our students. The book is organized so that each chapter gives both intensive teaching tips and quick fixes you can add to your classes in just a few minutes. (Click here and scroll down to view for James Lang’s February 2021 virtual visit to W&L to discuss Small Teaching.)

Teaching Web Resources

Solve a Teaching Problem

This site, created by the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation, provides practical strategies to address teaching problems across the disciplines. These strategies are firmly grounded in educational research and learning principles. How does it work? Begin with Step 1: Identify a PROBLEM you encounter in your teaching. Step 2: Identify possible REASONS for the problem Step 3: Explore STRATEGIES to address the problem.

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