December & January GIFTS
Theme: Emerging and Mobile Technology
The Teaching and Learning conference with guest speaker and trainer on January 11, 2019 was a big success. To view a recording of the keynote address, contact the PACE office at email@example.com or by phone 865-539-7335.
Some notes and tools from the session are:
- Synergistics: Put two things together. Get students to figure out the relationship between the two items. This will get students asking questions and generate critical thinking.
- Lectures don't get to the application level. Try polling students on the application of learning rather than on memorization.
- Verifying information on the web. Read Stanford study, "Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning"
- Students taking ownership of their learning. Eric Mazur, Harvard instructor puts students first in his teaching of AP 50. Watch YouTube AP 50 experience video (8:11)
- Prism.scholarslab.org - Free collaboration highlighting tool to see what your students think is important in a reading.
- Using Twitter hashtags (#) for research. For example, you can search for “#wellness” and find information and links about wellness. Or you can get very specific by using the Twitter Advanced Search. Students don’t even have to have a Twitter account to search Twitter. But they do need one if they want to follow any of the links they find. You can even add a Twitter feed on a topic to your Brightspace course! You don’t need to, but you might even want to create your own Twitter channel that you share with students!
- Students should also be made aware of the internet archive, the WayBackMachine. Just because they deleted something, doesn't mean it's gone. Employers and college admissions office know about the WayBackMachine. Students should too.
- Jing - Jing is a free screen recording tool.
- WolframAlpha - A powerful knowledge base tool, that Alan November recommends every student know about. Instead of worrying that students will use it to cheat, he recommends teaching them to use the tool with different variables and having them explain what happens when they do that. And you could record a Jing video of WolframAlpha to explain an answer.
- Google Operator Guide - Important search operators to use with Google.
Professor Maria Sills offers Service-Learning in her Beginning Spanish II class as an option to a final research paper. She has generously shared all of the handouts she uses.
Service-Learning is worth 10% of the student's final grade. The student has to do a least one hour a week of service during the entire semester, for a total of 15 hours and complete a reflection paper on the experience. This is all clearly spelled out in the supplemental syllabus she provides those who elect to do Service-Learning.
She offers students a choice of three places they can do their service and has a handout that provides the location and contact of each place and a short description of the program and services the student can serve.
All students engaged in Service-Learning in her class, have to sign a Service-Learning agreement where they specify which location they will do their service and that they understand the requirements.
On completion of the service and the semester, each student engaged in Service-Learning must write a reflection paper about their experience. Professor Sills provides them with reflection paper guidelines.
from Cindy Wawrzyniak
In lecture I ask about Service-Learning (SL) at least once a week. As we travel through the semester we keep talking about SL and eventually students talk about what they are doing with their SL. It is relaxed, usually before class while students are coming in. Students really LISTEN to what other students are saying about their SL.
By Don King
This term I am assigning students to interview an elderly person (preferably in a nursing home or an assisted living home) who doesn’t receive a lot of visitors (the Service-Learning aspect) and ask them to share something they would tell their younger selves if they could, something they would do differently if they could live their lives over again, something that would be useful to someone the student’s age, etc. Students will then use this as the basis, along with additional research, for a speech at the end of the term. You can view the assignment in greater detail, although it is still somewhat in process. I tried at this point to give students enough direction to be able to go ahead and set up the interviews, and I will add more advice on structuring the speech later.
I think this has potential for teaching students some things they would not learn any other way, and also a great way to both preserve the wisdom of our elders and give them a sense of continuing value and connection.
Theme: Global and Diversity Learning
by Rachel Stokes
Audience/level: teachers of high school, university, or adult English language learners (ELLs), especially upper-intermediate- to advanced-level students
Why Bother With YouTube?
In the process of acquiring listening skills, students must be encouraged to spend time simply listeningto the target language. They can’t hit replay on real-life conversations, but they can on YouTube. Whether students have access to thousands of native English speakers every day or you are the only native speaker they typically encounter, YouTube can supplement the content of your class. Follow these steps to create your own YouTube lessons.
How Do You Comb Through the Sea of YouTube Videos to Find Anything Useful?
Step 1: Select a topic—be specific rather than general. Let’s say you’re teaching a conversation course and students are interested in preparing for job interviews.
Step 2: On YouTube, enter a search for “job interview questions and answers.”
Step 3: Before you try to preview anything, immediately screen out options that are longer than 3 or 4 minutes. Compact length helps ensure that students won’t be overwhelmed by content that is too long or verbose. They will also be more likely to listen all the way through a second or third time if necessary.
Step 4: Screen for videos in which the still image has a professional look. Sound quality is likely to be better if the visual quality is also high.
Step 5: Start screening by listening to the first 10 seconds of videos whose titles match the content you’re looking for. You’ve probably got a winner if the video features the following:
- authentic speech (as opposed to slowed-down conversations that you often hear in your ESL/EFL listening curriculum)
- native speakers of English
- the type of accent (e.g., American, British) you’re looking for
Step 6: As you listen all the way through the video, jot down some comprehension questions for students to discuss after they view it. Then compose two or three questions to prime students before they watch it.
Step 7: Decide when and how to present the listening assignment:
- You could copy and paste the video’s URL along with your before and after questions in an email to students to watch for homework.
- In some countries, Facebook is more frequented by students than email, so you may choose to use your language center’s Facebook page.
- If you have lots of time to prepare, you could post all links and questions in an online syllabus before the term begins.
Who Benefits From YouTube in the EL Classroom?
- students with limited opportunities for interaction with native English speakers
- students in courses that focus on conversation, listening/speaking, fluency, English through film, English through music, business English, or U.S. culture
- high school, university, or adult ELLs
- upper level beginning- to advanced-level ELLs
However you choose to connect students with your listening lessons, two things are key. First, make sure everyone has had a chance to watch the video on his or her own. If not, showing it once again in class would be worth it (remember, it’s under 4 minutes anyway!). Second, debrief the discussion questions together. You can have students respond to the questions in pairs, in small groups, or as a whole class. You can even provide a typed-out transcript for further analysis.
Finally, iPhones and other gadgets enable students to take this type of lesson on the go. The more you can get them to listen to English, the better they’ll be able to listen, comprehend, and respond.
Submitted by Kate O'Meara
Almost everyone likes food. Think about your favorite breakfast when you were a kid. Describe it in detail, as you would to someone who had never encountered this kind of food before. For example, don’t just say “cereal” -- explain what it felt like to open the box, how the flakes sounded coming out, what flavor and color they were, whether there were marshmallows and raisins. Then you can mention pouring in the milk etc… I hope people have better memories than cereal -- this is just an example. If the entire class comes from similar backgrounds, and the descriptions are similar or at least mutually familiar, have each student look up a description of breakfast in a country other than where s/he was born. Note things that are similar and different.
Submitted by Kate O'Meara
Go to the link for the UNESCO World Heritage Map https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/ and pick a spot at random. Get as much information about this spot as you can, including pictures if you can. Make a brochure or short presentation marketing this spot for visitors. Who would you market it to? Tourists? Researchers? Locals? Religious pilgrims? What would you include to make it as compelling as possible?
Submitted by Kate O'Meara
Pick a famous year in US history. Find as many world events as you can that happened the same year. Try to figure out whether any of these events were connected or linked to each other.
Submitted by Kate O'Meara
Go to https://storycorps.org/ and have students listen to a few stories. Once they get the gist of the stories, have them select one that represents a positive aspect of diversity to them. Have them share with the class what about the story they found moving or interesting. Then have students divide into pairs and record Storycorps style interviews with each other. Try to pair up people who have something unusual in common. Getting paired up is half the fun.
by Chester Needham
Audience: ESOL Conversation Classroom for Adults
Why: Thanks to a linguistically-rich culture, English Language Learners (ELLs) in the United States have an extremely difficult time understanding much other than academically-spoken English outside of the classroom. However, thanks to the internet and wide array of avenues to explore and deconstruct entertaining popular culture, students can grasp a better understanding of culture, dialect, slang, and in this case, formality when addressing someone.
How: For this example, we are going to explore a Budweiser commercial that aired during a Monday Night Football game in December of 1999 and created the “Wassup!” phenomenon that was heard the world over. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWPmFrOmnlE
- Ask the students what they know about American football, and why a large company such as Budweiser might use that platform as a vehicle for advertising. How does this compare with advertising in their home cultures?
- Watch the video with subtitles and encourage the students to write down whatever it is they might not understand, or questions about the representation of, in this case, African American culture.
- Differentiate between dialect and slang.
- Ask students about the different ways they address older people, their peers, and younger people from their cultures. This will lead to a discussion about the varying degrees of social pleasantries in the United States, from the formal, “Good afternoon; how are you doing today?” to the opposite end of the spectrum, “’Sup?” This is also a good time to discuss how the video demonstrates the usage of Dialect (Black English), Slang (reduction), and formality depending upon whom one addresses.
- Watch the video one last time after the discussion to see how their understandings of these focal areas might have changed from their first viewing, and encourage the students to continue using popular culture and media with subtitles to better understand their new, adopted culture.
Theme: First Year Experience
Shared by Kate O'Meara
It is often hard to pick a good first assignment for a class, one that starts discussion while allowing students to get to know each other. There are many wonderful ice breakers out there, and it is definitely possible, and often worthwhile, to devote a portion of a class to doing an ice-breaker activity. However, if it is possible to get to know each other while starting a real conversation, or a writing assignment, it might allow an instructor to streamline the course and use course time more efficiently.
One such activity is the Name Narrative.
Research shows that being greeted and spoken to by name can change a student’s perception of an educational setting for the better, and allow the student to feel more valued and at home in the educational environment. Yet many of our students get consistently misnamed, their names forgotten or mispronounced by busy teachers.
The name narrative allows students to relate to others who have experienced this, as well as tell their own name story, whether as a classroom presentation, an interview with a classmate, a short journal entry, or any other graded or ungraded assignment.
Janine Pino, of the Pellissippi library staff, has been kind enough to put together a collection of articles about naming and misnaming, that can be used for readings associated with this first assignment.
It is also possible to use excerpts from longer texts, like the “Name” chapter from House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.
The point is to let students pick an article, read it alone or with a partner or group, and then use it as an inspiration or jumping point for telling their own stories.
Shared by Angel Hughes
Research indicates that participating in college experiences increases the possibility for success for students (Gibson & Slate, 2010). However, community college students are less likely to be involved on campus (Miller, Pope, & Steinman, 2005). First year college students may be unaware of all of the ways to participate in campus life, particularly on a non-residential campus. Additionally, first year students are sometimes overwhelmed by all there is to keep up with in any given class with due dates, tests, attendance policies, and even extra credit opportunities. Yes, they should get their syllabus the first day and put the due dates in their day planner of choice, but many first year students do not because they have never learned that habit.
As faculty members, we have a great opportunity to encourage students to participate in campus activities and provide reminders of course expectations, hopefully increasing their likelihood of success.
One way that I have developed to let my students know of many of the campus activities, remind them of course expectations, and not take a lot of class time doing it, is to run an announcements PowerPoint at the beginning of class as I prepare the room. I use PowerPoint to teach, so keeping an ongoing file with announcements has been easy. I include information about my class (e.g. a mid-term reminder about the attendance policy), opportunities to participate on campus (i.e. all that stuff that comes into your email that says “Please announce to your students.”), and anything I think will be helpful but I might forget to say (e.g. a reminder that Reconnect students need to apply each year). I promise them I’ll include anything that would be helpful, enriching, or might involve free food. Sometimes it has 15 slides and sometimes it has four.
Here are some ways that I have figured out to make it easier:
- Keep a file on the H Drive just for the announcement PowerPoint. It makes it easy to find and put up as soon as I walk in the room.
- Cut and paste from emails. Many also include pictures or graphics you can include for a little more interest.
- Set the slide show to transition slides automatically. I set mine for every 10 seconds.
- Update the slide show about once a week or whenever you add a new slide with a new announcement.
- Remind students to check their emails if they would like more information about a particular topic. They probably got an email about it.
- Run the slide show through a couple of times as you pass out papers, count attendance, and greet students.
- On days when you have a couple of extra minutes, run through with a short explanation (here’s why we do this in college) or a short story (here’s the time I forgot about the attendance policy and lost a letter grade) or a side note (the Pellissippi Pantry is collecting food but if you are in need here’s how you can apply) or even a realization (they are raising money for student scholarships at Chipotle because faculty want to help students succeed). A bit of editorializing might help some information make more sense or be remembered a bit longer.
Here are some examples of slides I might include:
I keep this slide up all semester – no excuses to not know!
Made by Director, Gretchen Wingerter
This idea wouldn’t work for everyone, but it might be a good way to get this important information to students or spur a thought of another wonderful way to help our first year students develop a broader understanding of college culture. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gibson, A. & Slate, J. (2010) Student engagement at two-year institutions: Age and generational status differences. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 34:5, 371-385, DOI: 10.1080/10668920802466384
Miller, M. T., Pope, M. L., & Steinmann, T. D. (2005) A profile of contemporary community college student involvement, technology use, and reliance on selected college life skills. College Student Journal, 39 (3), 596-603.
Submitted by Rick Patton
Help students, especially our first-year students, strengthen their connections to our PSCC community by making connections during class to our 2018-2019 Common Academic Experience (CAE) theme: Inner Space/Outer Space.
Having trouble connecting the theme to your course’s content? Have you considered these ideas that might relate in some small way to that content?
- Lack of Space: homelessness; on- and off-campus resources that address societal problems, including homelessness; service-learning that addresses such problems
- Innovative, Environmentally-friendly Space: tiny houses, The Dumpster Project
- Endangered Space: oceans, rainforests
- Confining Space: prison overcrowding, Death Row, capital punishment, animal welfare
- Shared Space: immigration and surrounding issues
- Safe Space: guns on our campuses
- Virtual Space: ownership of online areas
After making a connection between your content and the CAE theme, remind students that they will be invited to many CAE events. Encourage them to participate.
Submitted by Dr. Amy Caponetti, BCT
For most students it is helpful to use a multi-method approach to teaching. I have found that when I do this that I can help more students to learn the topic or concept. To that end I have incorporated media into most of my classes. I have found that sometimes the right media source can usually more succinctly get across the concept in a shorter amount of time than my lecture can.
I have incorporated this into multiple classes but for this GIFT I will be focusing on my BUSN 2350 class which is Organizational Behavior (conflict resolution). These are not graded but used as a basis of discussion in the classroom:
- I pick a video that (for this class) shows a conflict. I tell them to consider, as they watch how a boss/coworker and a consumer (themselves) would handle the situation. I like Hulu but there are many platforms and choices to choose from.
- After the video we either get into groups and discuss or have an individual discussion; This generally depends on time.
- Either way we have a class discussion on it ultimately. I allow them to discuss both sides as mentioned above and we talk about throwing different variables into the situation: Age, race, gender, time, environment, mood of the person etc.
My students love these and they take about 20 minutes.
Submitted by Dr. Lisa Fall
This is a train-the-trainer exercise (teach others what you have learned)
Being a first-year student or a returning adult student can be very daunting.
One thing is for sure: our PSCC library has as plethora of resources to assist you. One favorite of mine that students (young and old) really enjoy is Lynda.com (Directions for locating Lynda.com on the PSCC website and creating an account.)
In my Principles of Management and Introduction to Business courses I require students to enroll in Lynda.com, pick a topic of their choice, and complete a learning module. I stipulate that their chosen module must be at least 60 minutes long. But this can work in ANY class – because Lynda.com offers a plethora of topics. Students are then asked to turn in the following materials:
- a short written/typed analysis of what they learned from the training module (2 pages), which they will discuss with the class
- print out the certificate of proof (and attach to their analysis)
- I also teach them how to create a LinkedIn account (in an earlier class session). Then, I explain that they can link their completed Lynda.com certificates to their LinkedIn profiles.
Or, they can add a separate category on their resumes, labeled: “Additional Training” – and include the titles of their completed Lynda.com certificates
Alternately, ask students to prepare the following materials:
- put together a typed 1-page hand-out w/ bullet points of information about what they learned from the training module
- or have them make a poster (on poster-board)
- put them in teams and have them engage in round-table discussions in a round-robin fashion, which is very similar to these GIFT workshops. (I call mine “GIFTS” – Great Ideas for Talented Students)
- or have them hang their posters and set students up teams so they travel in small groups to each station (poster); assign some students to presentation days while others view the posters, then alternate who presents and who views on the other days
Submitted by Lora Bagwell
If you have a different idea other than those listed below, ask for instructor permission.
(Minimum hours/Time Required: 2)
(Minimum hours/Time Required: 2 group meetings)
(Minimum hours/Time Required: 1 game/tournament)
(Minimum hours/Time Required: 1 session)
(Minimum hours/Time Required: 1 session)
Academic Support Center
(Minimum hours/Time Required: 2 sessions)
(Minimum hours/Time Required: 2 hours)
(Minimum hours/Time Required: 2 hours)
All students will present their experiences to the class in digital form. Taking photos and/or videos during your participation is an excellent way to document your experience and enhance your presentation. You will create a presentation that highlights your experience as you engaged in the PSCC community. Some ideas include the following:
- SMORE Poster
Presentations must include the following:
- Minimum of eight photographs or one 3o second video documenting your experience
- Title of the activity with an explanation
- Date(s) of participation
- Explanations for each photo/video
- Details of the activity sharing your experience and how you feel you benefitted from engaging in this way
- Elements of creativity including, but not limited to: backgrounds, fonts, graphics, music, sound effects, colorful elements, etc.
Submitted by Kara Raymond
Kara created this beginning of the term assignment to orient her students to the tools they will be using throughout the term and the resources available to them.
Mrs. Raymond’s Project for Fall 2018 1130 College Algebra
DUE Wednesday SEPT 5. Write me an e-mail from your PSTCC email account (webmail). Be professional in tone, format, spelling, and grammar. Make sure you write a greeting and a closing “signature.”
Write “1130 Project” as the subject of your e-mail. My e-mail is email@example.com
The body of your email should include answers to the following questions in paragraph form using complete sentences (not in numbered or bulleted form).
- What is your preferred name and preferred pronouns?
- How many semesters have you been at Pellissippi?
- Why did you choose Pellissippi?
- If you are a dual enrollment student, what high school do you attend? If not, just ignore this question.
- Are you involved in any campus groups or activities? Which ones?
- What are your educational plans after Pellissippi? Career plans?
- Do you work? Where? About how many hours/week?
- What is your favorite thing to do with your free time?
- What concerns do you have about this course? About this semester in general?
- Anything else you would like me to know about you?
- Anything you would like to know about me?
Due Wednesday SEPT 5. Inside Brightspace (D2L), update your profile to include at a minimum a picture of yourself and your e-mail address with your PSCC webmail address in the “contact Information” section. Any information on this page may be viewed by your professors and classmates, so keep it professional.
All project items are due by the date given at 8AM.
- Get a PSCC student ID if you do not already have one. They can be made free in ERC 327: MTWR 7:30AM-7:30PM, F7:30AM-4:30PM, Sat 8AM-2PM. A replacement ID is $10 if you have lost one. If you have an old style ID, you must get a new one (this is free). An ID is required for the next three items.
DUE MONDAY SEPT 10. Take the Syllabus Quiz at the testing center. This “quiz” is in Brightspace, but requires a password only the testing center can provide. The quiz will be over the syllabus and class procedures discussed in class. Please bring a copy of the syllabus with you to the testing center. This will be available starting Wed August 29th. The Testing Center is in ERC 122. It is open MRF 9AM-3PM, TW 9AM-7:30PM, and Sat 8:30-1. *** If you want to be able to take this or other assessments at a different campus, please let me know so I can set it up.
Testing Center Usage Policies:
- Pellissippi students must bring their Pellissippi photo ID to enter.
- No personal items. That includes:
- No cell phones, watches (analog, digital, or smart), fitness trackers (such as Fitbits), flash drives, or other electronic devices.
- No backpacks, purses, etc.
- You must show the proctor any allowed test materials (do not carry them in a bag). All materials will be examined by proctors.
- No hats/caps. (Exception: headgear worn for religious reasons.)
- No food or drink.
- You may not use your own writing implements or scratch paper. These are supplied by Testing and must be turned in to a proctor before you leave.
- You are responsible for securing your belongings. You may not leave them in the proctor room.
- The Testing Center does not provide quarters for lockers.
- Once you receive your test, you may not leave the Testing Center without submitting your test to the proctor. You may not leave the Testing Center and return to finish your test later.
- Violation of Testing Center policies will result in your immediate dismissal.
DUE MONDAY SEPT 17. Go to Raymond’s Office in Portable A 102F during office hours, and show me your PSCC student ID and this printed project paper. If my posted office hours are not convenient, please make an appointment to see me at a mutually convenient time. This requirement may NOT be completed in the classroom before or after class. *Note you never need an appointment to stop by my office during office hours, but if you need to see me outside of my posted office hours making an appointment by e-mail is the polite method, and will guarantee that I will be available to talk with you.
DUE MONDAY SEPT 17. Sign in at the Tutoring Center (ERC 330) under this course. Stay at least 30 minutes (you may work on HW or write the e-mail above). Make sure you sign out. I will check this with an online program, so it is very important that you sign in and out correctly. Hours are M-R 9AM-6PM, F 9AM-4PM, and Sat 9AM-2PM.
All project items are due by the date given at 8AM.
Submitted by Shaquille Marsh
Chat with the people in the room. Find people who have had the following experience. Have them sign their name or initials in the appropriate blank. (Depending on the class size, limit how many items one student can mark.)
__________ 1. Is from outside the state of Tennessee.
__________ 2. Has traveled internationally outside the United States.
__________ 3. Has not attended an Tennessee Volunteers football game.
__________ 4. Can say, “hello” (or similar greeting) in three different languages.
__________ 5. Has sat under a palm tree.
__________ 6. Has attended a religious service of a religion other than their own.
__________ 7. Is the only child.
__________ 8. Has a friend who is not from America.
__________ 9. Plays a musical instrument.
__________ 10. Has had to utilize crutches, a wheelchair, a cane, or has worn a cast on a limb.
__________ 11. Can name four different kinds of breads from other cultures.
__________ 12. Has seen a Steven Spielberg movie.
__________ 13. Is bilingual, or has relatives who speak a language other than English.
__________ 14. Knows some American sign language.
__________ 15. Likes to play board games.
__________ 16. Knows what country celebrates their Independence Day on August 15.
__________ 17. Has visited more than four states in the United States.
__________ 18. Has attended a professional sporting event (NBA, NFL, NASCAR, etc.).
Try out this Orientation Scavenger Hunt shared by Moira Connelly. It's in a MS Word document, so you can edit it to fit your campus and your course. It's interactive and orients the students to important course components and support. I particularly like how she has students turn the Scavenger hunt in during her office hours.
by Shaquille O'Neal Marsh, Ph.D.
Let us face it. As content experts in our field of study, many of our students may not share the same level of passion as we do. However, our goal is to communicate the content in a way that is both engaging and interesting. Contrary to popular belief, many students enter our classroom with some experience in our subject matter though it may not be ample or vast.
As adult learners or returning students enter the classroom, we, as instructors, may need to adjust the way we teach our students. I personally use the principle of andragogy to guide my teaching practices. “Andra” translates as the word adult, which makes andragogy the art and science of teaching/leading adults (Knowles, 1980, p. 43), whereas “peda” or “paid” translates as child, which makes pedagogy the art and science of teaching children (Knowles, 1980).
As an instructor, you can also incorporate andragogical principles into your teaching without necessarily alternating your syllabus. You will still have the ability to control the pace and content of the class. The only difference is that you provide students with assignment options within the class.
Below, you will find an example….
One of Malcolm Knowles guiding andragogical principles is that the adult learner needs to be involved in the planning and evaluation of the instruction (Knowles, 1984b). The more involved a learner is in the learning process, the more likely the learner may take control of his or her education. As an instructor, this will be our dream!
The idea of andragogy looks different for each individual person and academic discipline. Many of you may already use andragogical principles and may not realize it!
If you have any questions on how you can implement andragogical teaching principles, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also if anyone is interested in working on projects tied to adult learners or presenting a paper at a conference, please let me know. I will be happy to work with you!
Shaquille O'Neal Marsh, Ph.D.
Instructor, Communication Studies
Debate Team Advisor
Pellissippi State Community College
Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy. Englewoods Cliff, NJ: Cambridge Adult Education.
Knowles, M. (1984b). Andragogy in action. San Francisco, CA:: Jossey-Bass
by Antija M. Allen, EdD, Instructor of Psychology
The best-known adult learning theoretical framework comes from Malcolm Knowles. Knowles (1980) proposed a framework of adult learning, which he felt was different than pre-adult schooling. This theory became known as andragogy, which means the art and science of helping adults learn (Clapper, 2010). Knowles (1980) distinguished the assumptions of pedagogy from those of andragogy. From these assumptions, Knowles proposed a program planning model for designing, implementing, and evaluating educational experiences with adults (Merriam, 2001).
Knowles (1980) lists five assumptions of andragogy, but I won’t list them here. Instead I’ll list three ideas connected to andragogy that guide my teaching philosophy:
- Adult learners should be treated like experts. In other words, as educators we recognize that we may not be the authority in the room on all topics discussed in class.
- Adult students learn best when the instructor utilizes experiential techniques such as: group discussion, case methods, and simulation exercises.
- Adult learners have been on this planet for a while and just for the sake of being here longer, they have accumulated a great deal of life experiences. Incorporate those life experiences in the classroom.
The way these three ideas of andragogy play out in my classroom is ultimately through discussion. I am inspired by Stephen Brookfield (2013). He explains how discussion can be used as a way of teaching adults. Anyone who has had the unfortunate luck of having a classroom near mine has been subjected to loud noises coming through the walls or making their way down the hallway. No, a fight has not broken out, well at least not a physical one. We are just talking about life. And talking about life is something adult learners are very passionate about doing. Therefore, I allow my students to talk about their lives as often as possible.
Benefits of Discussion as a Way of Teaching
The benefits of using discussion as a way of teaching are endless in my opinion, but here are just a few I’ve found:
- Students stay awake. If there is lively and thoughtful discussion taking place then students may even put their cell phones away and pay attention.
- Students will remember what they’ve learned. They can read and read and read. And they can take a million practice quizzes, but nothing sticks in a student’s head like a funny or horrifying story someone tells in class and what’s even more helpful is if the student is the one who shared the story.
- Students can clearly connect their life experiences to what they are learning. A student reads a definition and looks blankly at the page trying to translate what they just read. BUT if a student is involved in a discussion, then they will remember that taste aversion relates to Chipotle. They ate Chipotle once and got E. coli, after that, every time they see a Chipotle restaurant they feel sick. Once the story is told and the definition is clear then everyone wants to know where that Chipotle is so as to avoid it and they want to share their personal examples of taste aversion.
- Students feel like experts. We all went to school for several years and have a ton of book knowledge, but is my reading about PTSD the same as a veteran who experiences it? Is my studying substance abuse the same as my student who is a recovering addict? Yes, I am still an expert in my classroom, but through the sharing of their life experiences adult students especially feel empowered and like they’re experts too.
- Students see you as human. I have found that the fact that I share my sometimes-embarrassing stories causes students to see me as down to earth. Many students feel like they can relate to me. And because they feel that way, they are more comfortable sharing their life experiences in the classroom.
How to Use Discussion as a Way of Teaching
In some courses, especially introductory courses, our students have to learn several definitions and theories. Here are two ways you can get away from the lecture and even the PowerPoint slides.
- Share a personal story as an example of a term or theory then ask students to share their thoughts, opinions, or similar experiences. And just so you know, I like to share a real wacky yet true story. The kind of story everyone will have an opinion about.
- Break students into small groups and give each group a discussion question to answer. The discussion question should require them to use their textbook, creativity, and personal opinions (sometimes I’ll allow them to research on their cell phones/laptops with parameters). Then when they have completed their questions, have each group present their question with responses then allow the larger group to comment. You can break up an entire chapter into several discussion questions and chime in to the discussion to clarify concepts when necessary.
If you choose to use discussion as a way of teaching, you may want to set some ground rules early on in the semester or possibly add some to your syllabus. I encourage honest, respectful, and open discussion. Some days the discussion may make you want to cry, while other days you will find yourself laughing even after the class has already ended. If only for one class session-- toss out the slides, skip the lecture, and just let your students talk about life.
Brookfield, S. D. (2013). Powerful techniques for teaching adults. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Clapper, T. C. (2010). Beyond Knowles: What those conducting simulation need to know about adult learning theory. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 6(1), e7-e14. doi:10.1016/j.ecns.2009.07.003
Knowles, M. S. (1980). My farewell address…andragogy--No panacea, no ideology. Training & Development Journal, 34(8), 48. Retrieved from http://www.asted.org/TD/
Merriam, S. B. (2001). Andragogy and self-directed learning: Pillars of adult learning theory. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (89), 3-14. doi:10.1002/ace.3