Quick Tip: Leave time for students to tell you what they learned
In a this week's Chronicle, "How to Prepare for Class Without Overpreparing" by James Lang, author of Small Teachings, he suggests that we, as faculty members preparing for the coming new academic year, focus on not overpreparing.
Faculty members overprepare for lots of reasons. You feel an obligation to give students the full benefit of the knowledge you have acquired. You want to ensure that they recognize and respect your expertise. You are nervous that you will run out of material before the class period comes to an end. Or perhaps you just want to make sure that the class will run as smoothly as possible, and so you attempt to foresee every potential problem in advance.
Here, we have to allow students' learning, with its variant rates and forms, to drive the instructional decisions we make. We should think about how we can free up time in class and assignments to check on what students understand about the content we present.
This approach, of courses, will come with some adjustment on our parts to see teaching not lecturing or presenting information, but for students' learning, as represented in what they do, say and write, to direct our pedagogical choices that, in turn, direct students' learning. Lang provides a cache of his techniques that "are well-grounded in the literature on human learning." Each time we implement one of these techniques focused on gauging student learning (and the many others that exist) we get a firmer grasp on how and why we do it--to improve student learning and increase our success.