Throughout this semester, we covered numerous topics in this course relating to pedagogy. For those of you that may not remember, below are the main topics we discussed:
- Networked learning
- Mindful learning
- Inclusive pedagogy
- Critical pedagogy
- Problem-based learning
I know, that’s a pretty daunting list of topics, but don’t worry it isn’t as bad as it might look. Now, each of these topics can be used individually when teaching an have powerful implications. But instead, if they are used together better results can be achieved to ultimately become the ‘New Professional’ as Parker Palmer likes to put it. For me, I feel that this idea of a ‘New Professional’ can be broken into four components:
- Adapting the curriculum
- Being mindful
- Proper pedagogical praxis
- Proper assessments
For each of these four components parts of the list above can be incorporated and mixed together to provide what I feel is a curriculum for a ‘New Professional’. The four components and the interactions of the topics covered in this course are discussed in more detail below.
Adapting the curriculum
The first component of becoming a ‘New Professional’ is adapting the curriculum to individuals in the course. One method of adaption is the used of networked learning. Firstly, networked learning can allow for individuals to participate in the class when they are not able to physically in the classroom. Networked learning can allow for deeper conversations to occur through the use of blogging or similar online outlets. Adaption does not just stop at the use of blogging and online platforms. Adaption to new technologies in general is as a huge deal. Nobody wants to be taught by a professor that uses transparencies and a slide rule.
A ‘New Professional’ needs to be mindful of the students and be sure to take what Ken Robinson had to say in mind. In order for the students to flourish a ‘New Professional’ needs to be mindful for three principles: diversity, curiosity, and creativity. Stifling any of these principles can have an adverse effect on the learning process. Being mindful covers more than ensuring your students have the three principles needed to flourish. A ‘New Professional’ must be mindful of the grading policy he/she puts in place. In certain instances an A-F grad may not be the right answer for providing feedback to students. A ‘New Professional’ must be mindful of competition amongst students. I feel that competition can have a positive impact on the students when used in moderation (The Bright Side of Competition Projects). However, if competition is used improperly it can lead to students playing it safe and not learning as much because they are scared to get a “low grade”.
Proper pedagogical praxis
The third component is using a proper pedagogical praxis when teaching a course. When in the classroom, it is important to use teaching methods that work for the students in the class being taught. This means that one method that works one semester may not work as well the next. There are numerous pedagogical praxis out there each with their own spin on what is important and what isn’t in the classroom. In this course we talked about inclusive and critical pedagogies specifically. I think both of these pedagogical praxis are a good start to forming a proper pedagogical praxis. The use of an inclusive pedagogy was illustrated in the first two components above so I will not repeat it here. Looking at what Freire had to say, it is important to not view students as empty banks where information is to be dumped. Instead, a ‘New Professional’ would use dialogic engagement.
Being a ‘New Professional’ does not stop at teaching information, which is why the fourth component exists, assessments and course work. Deciding what assessment is best is a difficult choice, but it is one that every educator must make. One assessment that I feel will be used at least once in every course I teach is problem-based learning. I want students to develop the critical thinking skills that are necessary for engineering. While knowing the theory and calculations to back up claims is absolutely necessary, in industry there is no book with answers in the back to problems they will face. Therefore, students will need to be able think critically and use logical arguments to back up their claim, both concepts that are taught through problem-based learning assignments.
I feel it is impossible to say that there is one way formula to being a ‘New Professional’. Being a ‘New Professional’ is going to be different from educator to educator, but what will be the same same is the use of personal strengths to develop a curriculum that works for the educator and the instructor. As of now, I haven’t had enough teaching experience to know what topics I learned in this class will be of the best use to me. But, I now have a tool belt partly full of topics and principles that I can test and see how it works for me. Now, notice the “partly” in the prior sentence, I say this because I strongly feel that this course was just the tip of the iceberg and provided me with some tools but there many other tools other there that I still have yet to find. It is now up to me to continue investigating and keeping up with new developments so that I can be a ‘New Professional’.