There isn’t a Magic Wand

I have came across this article by Dr. Maryellen Weimer. Dr Weimer starts the article how someone approached her and complained about ineffectiveness of some methods she was suggesting, ultimately blaming her for failure. In her response, Dr Weimer states several points:

1. No strategy, policy, activity or assignment “works” the same way for every student.

2. No strategy, policy, activity or assignment “works” for every teacher.

3. No strategy, policy, activity, or assignment “works” in every course.

4. Make predictions but don’t be surprised by the outcome.

5. No new approach is the best it can be the first time you try it.

6. The success of any strategy, policy, activity, or assignment ought to be measured by how well it promotes learning.

In my short educator’s career so far, I have seen similar approach to the person that was complaining to Dr Weimer. Somehow, some educators expect that there is a list of “to do” and “not do” things, and they just need to implement them. Just use the magic wand, say the magic words, and everything will be all right. Well, teaching is not problem solving. However, problem solving is part of teaching. But there is much more to it.

So, dear educators – especially engineering educators – you do not work with concrete or steel here. There is no “for problem A, solution is B” approach here. There is no magic wand. Remember that you are working with humans. And that all those humans, no matter how similar they might be in many aspects, are all different. All of them. All those that have ever lived, that live right now, or will ever live. No one from those people is the same. Consequently, something that might work with one individual might not work with the other.

Conclusively, I agree with all the points Dr Weimer made. I would add that the reason why we make mistakes is our skewed perception of education as a process. My guess is that we are still constrained by the classical, moving assembly line, notion of education – the one where you just need to add the exact piece at the exact time to an identical object. Education of the future, as I see it, should be completely customized. From customization at in-class assessment level, to customization of individual educational trajectories. And all for the sake of promoting learning and development.

However, until that far future, we can start by thinking twice about the methods we use, especially in relation to students’ previous knowledge and behavior. And for that, we need to get to know our students. So, educators, dedicate some effort to understand preconceptions and behavior of your students. Try to find those similarities that you can easily recognize and incorporate into curriculum, but also try to find those aspects of diversity that makes us all individual human beings.

Technology – one piece of a puzzle

A recent post, “A Plea for “Close Learning”, by Dr. Newstok has caught my attention. Dr. Newstok’s post talked about technology in classroom, or more specifically the recent boom of massive open online courses (MOOC). MOOCs, as many technologies before, are perceived to have a potential to bring first-rate education to a greater number of people. A sincerely positive democratic goal. But this post raises the question – will this technology be something more than just a “content delivery system”?

The argument presented is valid. We cannot fixate solely upon technology, develop technology for technology’s sake, or think that technology can overcome some crucial human factors (e.g., bad teaching). Dr. Newstok goes further and reminds us of the importance of close interaction in the process of learning – “laborious, time-consuming, and costly but irreplaceable proximity between teacher and student”. And I agree with this point. Learning and inquiry often have best chances to happen in the “old-fashioned” Socratic seminar, where students have to think and consider different perspectives in interaction.

This devotion to close learning, or better learning in general, is not an anti-technology attitude. It is a call that we should not forget what the goal of education is. And that we should not forget that proper learning does not just happen without interaction. Here I would go even a step further, and claim that proper learning is hard – in a sense that it requires effort – the effort that results in learner’s development. And we need to accept that fact. Trying to make it easy should not be the main goal, but just one of the sub-goals of the attempts to make the education better.

In these attempts of improving education, we should not forget that transferring some knowledge is positive in itself. I recall an example of one professor at one university in U.S., who was very popular among his students.  A lot of people told me that I should go and attend one of this classes. His class was called something along the lines of Regions of the World, and the official course description was teaching college students “Human and physical patterns of major regions of the world. Concepts and perspectives of geography as a social science; linkages and interdependence of nations and regions.” I knew this will be an important and challenging task in educating college students, knowing that an average high school student in U.S. does not receive broad education about the world.

So I first looked at the book, and talked about the curriculum with several students. The book was developed as a comic, depicting all the world’s regions, and major events in the very recent past. Course had online lectures, online quizzes, invited speakers, and many other technological improvements. So my first impression was positive, since I was that this professor is putting some additional effort to develop his course beyond the conventional “ex cathedra” lecture. Then, I went to one of the lectures. My sample might be limited, but this lecture left me with a bitter impression. And the pieces of the puzzle fell in place. The teacher was behaving as an entertainer. Knowing that most of the people attending this course have very limited knowledge about the world outside of U.S., and were probably not very interested in knowing those things at all, this teacher actually created a counter-productive environment.

First, in order to excite student’s interest about these regions, he used many jokes, with an exaggerated number of stereotypes (e.g., French are cowards, Germans do not have sense of humor, or Russians are crazy). Failure at this point related to the well known fact that education is not just transferring “some” knowledge, since knowledge can be negative (as was the case with the information based on stereotypes). Second, the scope of the causation events he used to describe current events was limited to just several causes from the very recent past, or some isolated events from the further past. This way, the relationships he was establishing to lead his students to conclusions were often weak or did not have a lot of connection to the actual reality.Consequently, the analysis lacked depth, and sounded as something based on information from magazines. However, this lack of depth aside, he did not clarify that his knowledge is limited, or that the process of analysis he uses to make conclusions about the present needs to include much more information than he is able to include in the class.

Consequently, the knowledge that students were gaining was based on simplified, stereotypical, and limited information, and without the awareness that the conclusions on the causation of events might not be correct due to insufficient  depth of analysis. As a result, he not just failed to convey the complete information (at which point he could leave the student to develop their own conclusions), he also failed to develop a sense of analysis process needed for arriving to an informed and analytic conclusion about the current events. So, aside from all the “innovative” technology he used in the course, I had a feeling that he was actually hindering the development of his students.

This was a valuable lesson that technology is just one of the pieces of the puzzle, called improvement of learning in higher education, and if not well integrated with all the others under a holistic perspective, it might actually hinder learner’s development.

Technology and Learning

High-level administration goal is to increase the number of college graduates and reduce achievement gap. The questions immediately appear- how are these administrative goals affecting the goals for engineering education and how can we utilize them to improve the current system in the specific issues that we identified so far? I believe that we have to start from the human behavior. Research tells us that our current “seating-time based” measures of educational attainment are not working anymore, and we need to modify the system by organizing it around competence, flexibility and individual approach to students. The system needs to relate to beliefs, identification, independence, usefulness to goals, and choice – since they all relate to interest, motivation, effort and educational achievement. A step towards this is increase in students’ self-directed learning, by partially giving up power by teachers and allowing students to take control and responsibility for their own learning. Then, we can include project-based learning
with real-world problems, discussion, evaluation, re-design, group work, reflection, broader impact perspective, lifelong learning, etc. In addition, we can have improved assessment techniques, and all that in different size groups or for individual work inside of larger learning communities that can include teachers, different-level students, experts, and parents.

Something of this scale was impossible to accomplish 20 years ago, since the necessary technology was not developed. However, we now have the technological basis that can be used for fostering learning and assessment. Most of the software and hardware is readily available. We have broadband Internet, improved processing and graphical power, wikis, blogs, digital content, mobile and real-time access to information, social networking tools, etc. However, it is not just that obvious technology part – just as
blackboard and chalk were a revolution at some point in time as a tool to present large amounts of information to many people, they required additional development in standards, methods and practices. Potential areas for improvement are:

• Revise standards on state, district and other administrative levels
• Develop new learning methodologies for learning and assessment
• Provide large-scale training for teaching force technology skills
•Further develop technologies, such as simulations, collaboration environments, virtual worlds, games, and cognitive tutors
• Leverage social networking technologies and platforms for creating communities of practice and crowd sourcing environments
• Increase the access to technology through reducing software, hardware and Internet prices, supporting open-source technologies, and building the necessary infrastructure
• Develop metrics and methods for frequent evaluation of productivity and achievement

All this would make us first rethink basic assumptions in the higher education system. Interconnecting students, educators, parents, school and governmental administrators would require the increase in responsibility in all levels. However, the change cannot be just on the university level. There is a need for a nationwide emphasis on formal engineering education starting from the middle school level. This would start the early development of necessary skills, and allow teenagers to experience engineering as a
process –not just as related to math and science.

Instead of a conclusion, I would like to leave you with one point for reflection – try to imagine the future world where the Department of Education has a research budget equivalent to the current budget for the Department of Defense, and vice versa.
References: Weimer, M., Learner-centered teaching: five key changes to practice, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.

Engineering Workplace

A great deal of philosophical work throughout the centuries is dealing with reality – asking questions such as what, why, and how. Relating this to reality in the engineering work place, there are two engineering realms – the object world and the world of social processes. Object world is defined as angle of reality focused on the object under analysis, while the world of social processes tends to give different angles of reality. In this sense, we have engineers that have different perspectives or different angles of reality. Those angles of reality then relate to their identity and motivation as engineers.

The fact is that there are different types of engineers – just as there are different types of people. Different engineers have different levels of development and preference for some knowledge or skills. And just as with people, this diversity should be the advantage. However, the problems arise inside the often-narrow definitions of company’s hierarchy. On the one side, there are often problems with unnecessary desire to have “equal” distribution of technical workload among employees. On the other side, senior engineers do see the importance of skills, so they often emphasize on the skills that person has. From their perspective, skills might be more important as harder to teach employee, while you can easily have knowledge transfer using senior engineer’s experiences, manuals, and training. In addition, the structure of companies are often rigid, allowing senior engineers to often only progress as managers and not necessarily as very highly skilled engineers. Finally, companies fail to motivate engineers, relating the motivation only with money rewards. However, according to recent research in the area of higher
cognitive skills, motivation primarily comes from autonomy (the desire to be self-directed), mastery (the urge to improve at work), and purpose (making a contribution through transcended purpose).

Having in mind the emphasis on skills, coming from senior management, the list of engineer’s skills keeps on expanding: structural organization, analytical skills, problem solving, innovation and creativity, organizational behavior management, interests negotiation, mathematical modeling, conceptual problem solving, fast learning, working in team, establishing order in the uncertain and environments with lacking information, audience analysis, analytical listening, life-long learning, etc. However, what is higher
education offering students? It is offering them: frequent abstraction of the object world, given and solvable problems, often no wider context and with little connections within disciplines, lack of application of knowledge, focus on theoretical science.

So? Problems? But we are engineers, aren’t we? When problems appear, we solve them. So we just need to remember this, since apparently we forgot somewhere on the way. One thing is sure – change is needed not just on the university level, but also inside the companies, that are often operating by 19th century principles.

First of all, the change needs to start from faculty. In my undergraduate education, the relationship among students and faculty was a relation of less and more experienced colleagues. We actually did addressed each other as “colleague”. I see as beneficial that faculty involves in a more open-ended relationship with students. In addition to that, there is a systematic use of modern computer, information, and communication technology. Solution can be increase in time spent in school or increase in credit hours, adding some management and writing courses, but can be also flexibility in choosing courses instead of some engineering or other area courses. The class structure needs to change too, including exercises, problems, courses scopes to achieve balance of science and practice, along with active discussion of real world problems, putting students on the spot to articulate and defend their approach and results.

Beside the change in the university, there needs to be change in the companies too. This change would be a result of the start in the change in the universities. Companies need to recognize different types of engineers, accept that diversity and use it better. This should not result in creating more positions but should reflect in liberating the choice for position. In addition, a flexible structure has a potential to allow individuals to achieve optimal performance by finding intrinsic meaning in their work. In addition, relating the salary to seniority and achievements and not necessary to position is another of the potential solutions.

Reference: Pink, D.H., Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, Riverhead
Books, 2009

Some points related to Assessment

The recent two decades introduced some changes, while education systems are still trying to address previous issues and respond to the new requirements. Engineers of today are required to go beyond simple knowledge about discipline-related concepts. Topics such as communication, teamwork, understanding ethics and professionalism, work in the global and societal context, lifelong learning, knowledge of contemporary issues, context of engineering, perceptions of engineering, beliefs about own abilities, higher-order thinking, design process, adaptive expertise, intellectual development, etc. were different aspects of “knowledge for a new generation of engineers”.

According to ABET, universities are now accountable for demonstrating their effectiveness of teaching, especially due to the focus switch from input measurements to the output measurements. There are different approaches to teaching itself that are trying to influence the development of these engineering and professional skills. Ethics can be taught across curriculum with specific examples that could raise student’s awareness about the potentially “unintended harm” cases. Study-abroad programs and humanities and social sciences adopted for engineers can also play a significant role in the curriculum. In addition, there is a need for early exposure to “real” interdisciplinary, hands-on engineering practice, team work, systems thinking, and creative design. This could be coordinated to include close interaction with industry, broad use of information technology, and horizontal and vertical integration of subject matter. Finally, life-long learning is usually related to professional engineer licenses.

But this is not all. I see this dynamic behavior in education through a metaphor from basic control theory, represented as a feedback (closed-loop) control. The output of the system (students’ knowledge and skills) is fed back through a sensor measurement (assessment and evaluation) to the reference value. The controller (faculty and staff) then takes the difference between the reference (ABET) and the output to change the
input (teaching, administrative policies, equipment, etc.). Under the previous complex requirements and increased teaching efforts, the question of assessment becomes crucial.

But what is assessment? By its definition, the assessment is the act of collecting data that can be used to measure individual student’s competencies. This data is later evaluated, leading to “reasonable” accurate results and evidence about the student’s performance. So, assessment is an integral and inseparable component of education. Assessment can present information not just on student’s knowledge but on professors teaching techniques and university’s organization.

There are many requirements for modern assessment techniques. One of the most important one is that they have to be relate to expected, clear and important learning goals. They have to be cost-effective in terms of time, and applicable for transparent communication. Assessment techniques of today need to address all the forms of diversity present among students. This is the reason assessment has become a NxM scale problem since we have different student types (N) and we are trying to assess different skills and knowledge (M). So, we need robust and effective assessment techniques. Fortunately, there are many of them already existing, so we “just” need to implement them (interviews, conversational analysis, randomized control trials, verbal exams, small on-line quizzes, blog activities, multisource feedback, project rubrics, self-ratings, behavioral observations for evaluating attitudes, employer assessment of graduates’ preparation, etc.). These techniques can be used for direct and indirect assessment of communication, team work, process effectiveness, innovativeness, sustainable design, and other skills, in addition to simple knowledge evaluation. However, this implementation is where our professional judgment, as future faculty, needs to determine what, when, and how.

To conclude, professional skills required nowadays are harder to assess, especially since most of college professors are self-taught in the area of assessment design. Instructors would need to collaborate more with education researches for improving their techniques. Emphasize should be on the continuous assessment of students and one-on-one assistance, while providing a variety of ways for expressing the knowledge. In addition, faculty needs to create detailed (per lecture) learning goals in order to teach and later on assess specific skills. Faculty should be supported to increase the utilization of electronic testing resources that could improve cost-effectiveness. Finally, awarding faculty (with more time, resources, different tenure criteria, etc.) that invest additional efforts and develop new teaching techniques should become a state-of-practice.

Learning in Organizations

Considering constantly changing environmental circumstances, all the modern organizations need to constantly adjust in order to stay competitive. Unfortunately, organizations often tend to neglect the variability of factors, external and internal information, falling in the similar trap of not considering adjustment of structure and procedures. This is one of the scale and complexity issues that lead to the need for large scale improvement and change in an organization. A nice example can be an analogy of a journey determined on the map without considering the real-time road conditions, neglecting that revision and improvisation are the essential parts of the process.

Organizations often have many of potential areas for improvement, and one of them is the discrepancy between the canonical and non-canonical practice that appears while operating in real conditions. Differences often appear between the actual practice and the procedures described in official manuals, training courses, and job descriptions that organizations have. I often recall an example of training courses for traffic signal technicians that usually do not cover the details about the actual field equipment,
and how that information is usually received from older technicians. In addition, organizations tend to believe that there is not interrelation and compatibility of working, learning, and innovation. Finally, the bigger the organization is, the more inertia against change there is, although in order to adjust to environmental change, the needed modifications are often comparatively small.

Representations of organizations are often oversimplified as just a simple collection of individuals. However, organization and its knowledge are a combination of its individual’s knowledge and they are  often able to perform sets of actions that individuals cannot. Organizations are often characterized having the accumulated wisdom of practitioners and they have established procedures for acquiring new members. In addition, there is development of organization’s individuals in the organizational and institutional context, and vice versa – the operational consequences that the activities of these “developed” individuals bring to the organization. On the other hand, organizations can have some features of the individual, such as identity, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation sources.

Literature suggests that inside organizations there are three learning levels (individual, group, and organizational) and four related processes (intuiting, interpreting, integrating, and institutionalizing). The first two processes are related to individual, integrating is related to groups, while institutionalizing can be only performed on the organization level. I personally think that the key to initiative for change is intuiting and interpreting on the individual level. This is where it all starts – with an innovative individual. However,
the change cannot be institutionalized if there is no integration on the group level. Following structure of these levels, there are feeding forward and feeding back flows of information. In this process, some information is lost and new levels of information are added in transfer among levels. Considering that change originates on the lower levels (individuals and groups), a reasonable degree of autonomy along with simultaneous increase in connectivity could accelerate the change.

Facing the fact that modern universities are similar to companies we need to approach the issue of change in universities similar to the issue of change of any other organization. First, we need to ask ourselves is education and reaching excellence still the main identity and goal of these organizations with the specific human-related output? Next, is downskilling for the sake or reduction of short-term costs intentionally neglecting the increase of long-term and external costs? Are the present procedures providing motivation for action by individuals, considering that universities often do not have the
“champion” that will push forward for the sake of his/her own benefit? And finally, some discipline-related questions have to be posed, such as the level of influence by E.I.T. and P.E. exam’s content on the engineering curricula?

One thing is sure – universities need to continuously adapt to changing social conditions (e.g., emergence of social networking websites). This would require changes on student, faculty, and administration levels to create culture for supporting the right values. There needs to be increased communication between all involved parties – the people that implement the actual procedure, the people that create those procedures, and people affected by procedures implementation. For example, developing hypothetical learning trajectories is similar as goggling the route from A to B, having only the directions but without any real-time information. There are also issues with predefined curricula that were constructed long time ago and sometimes not even by the experts in the fields. Increase of classroom-based analysis needs to influence instructional design, and vice versa. There needs to be teaching of students for learning in groups and from groups, along with developing their capabilities for identifying personal learning styles and learning styles of their peers. Including students from organizing the curriculum up to the phrasing the exam questions, along with modifying “hidden” rules conveyed to students. Finally, self-reflection and openness to change, on the individual and on the organizational level is essential if institutional change is
to become a part of the university’s culture. However, all this has to start somewhere, and I strongly believe that we as future faculty should be those initiators of change.

Taxonomy and Intelligence

As human beings, we tend to classify. This is an everyday activity that creates visible or invisible groups, and is usually helpful. The more time we spend on the task, more groups will we create. People classify objects and people. When people classify people, one of the taxonomies is by quantifying how much “smart” someone is. However, our classifications neglect that intelligence is not that easily analytically measurable. Intelligence is usually empirically determined – as capacity to solve problems, rationality, problem solving capability, ingenuity, or simple “being smart”.

The manifestation and importance of intelligence are valued differently in different social/cultural settings. Different societal values relate to intelligence through the level of usefulness to a specific social group – knowledge and behavior useful to Eskimos might not be useful to Incas. This raises the question of realistic uniformity of intelligence across different social groups and different cultural settings.

The singularity of intelligence has long being a discussion topic among psychologists. The original approach was that there is general intelligence that each individual has. On the other hand, recent research in brain structure has provided information for inclining towards the idea of modular combination of intelligence. This pluralistic concept of intelligence is related to different parts of the brain with a claim that there is no correlation between capabilities in one brain area and capabilities in other. The initial multiple intelligence concept included logical-mathematical, linguistic, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligence. In addition, recent suggestions include also naturalistic, existential, emotional, spiritual, and sexual intelligence. There are suggestions that even more intelligences might appear. The claim is that all these intelligences have primarily separate development. The speed and level of development of each of multiple intelligences is related to genetic constraints and environmental influence, resulting in different individuals with different intelligences developed.

If we accept the notion of pluralistic concept of intelligence the question is how are we as future educators are going to accommodate that. The main focus of current education system, especially among standardized tests, is on linguistic and logical intelligences. Present system barely that even takes into consideration a couple of other intelligences and mostly does not even include others in the process of teaching and assessment. In addition, the assessment is usually constrained by cultural manifestation (e.g., the tests that require understanding of reading from left to right or established cultural norms). To achieve specific pedagogical goals we need to include the notion of optimal taxonomy of human capacities in preferred learning styles and corresponding teaching styles. The future of education is in customization that needs to include specialized teaching along with observing and consulting students. Future development in learning approaches needs to include different settings (e.g. in-class, at home, field experience, lab experience, etc.). There is a potential for different entrance exams for different majors since some intelligences are also important for particular careers (e.g. spatial intelligence for engineers). Finally, research in the field of brain structure and genetics should help us in the future, not just to appreciate but to develop all the diverse intelligence profiles.

Motivation and Identity

“Who am I? What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope?” One thing is sure – identity is what makes us an individual. Identity of an individual is a self-perception and a perception from a society, all in a certain context. Perspective on us as a person can be related to nature, institutional positions in society, accomplishments or shared societal experiences. At the end, we all try to “be someone” and “be happy”, fulfilling the three basic psychological needs – autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The identity is a result and a tool for pursuing those needs. It is a process, never a state.

As individuals relate and explore values, beliefs, and goals across lifetime they develop multiple identities. Once, I might have seen myself as a traffic engineer but now I see myself as a future faculty teaching traffic engineering. Even society across time develops different identities, especially after great historical events (such as Germans after WWII).

Education, as a significant part of each individual’s lifetime, directly affects the development of that individual’s identity. During education, a person is evolving through learning and development – all trough specific everyday actions that change us during the process. This is where motivation comes into play. Motivation directly relates to the amount of time or effort a person is willing to devote to that evolution. Motivation involves goal- directed action, since without motivation, there is no action, and individual is only under the effects of the environment. So, motivation is important – we need to understand motivation though the context in order to understand the actions and that change towards the identity that all individuals are pursuing.

But, what is motivation? Many theories related motivation to different sources. Some theories relate motivation to expectancy of results. They it to confidence in ability to perform a task and that sense of confidence can vary in strength, generality and level. They are stating that motivation is affected by expectations between causes (events) and outcomes, access to means for producing outcomes, and ability to produce desired events. Another group of theories includes reasoning behind engagement, introducing intrinsic and extrinsic reasons for action. They relate motivation to stimulation level and need for competence and self-determination. However, motivational reasons are often confused along with accompanying conflicting feelings (of control over the actions but also being immersed in the activity).

Finally, another group of theories integrates expectancy and value constructs while some even integrate motivation and cognition. These theories emphasize on the interaction between knowledge of oneself, domain-specific knowledge, strategy knowledge, and personal-motivational states. There is also recognition of utility value of task in relation to immediate and future goals. According to these theories, the integration of motivation and cognition accomplishes through self-observation, self-judgment, and self-reactions.

All the previous theories provide different insight into motivation, while still having some common agreements points. For example, there is always a conflict or coordination of immediate (e.g., enjoyment) and ultimate (e.g., survival) goals for motivation. None of the theories gives a complete approach to motivation, this is the reason a coordinated approach from all this different theories should be developed. Then, through integration of those theories we can try to resolve how motivation is included and reflected in the educational system – in tests, lectures content, working hours, working environments, assignments, etc.

Current education systems are not built upon significant premise of motivation’s role in learning. Current education systems are supporting ego-involved goals not task-involved goals – more of “will I look smart?” then “what will I learn?”. System is creating performance-oriented instead of learning-oriented students, where students are in essence learning to be test-takers, with emphasize more on performance and less on mastery. In addition to that, relation of motivation to social responsibility in learning is rarely considered. Teachers, along with parents, as primary socializing agents, have the key role in individual’s motivation development for support of identity development. Finding purpose and direction with regard to academic goals is one of the components. Another is the awareness of continual identity pursuit and thus motivation as an integral element of that process. The important role in motivation for successful academic/professional but also a personal functioning is the ability and desire to openly seek out and actively evaluate relevant information, and using that information for creating action constructions.

1) J. Bransford, L. National Research Council. Committee on Developments in the Science of, R. National Research Council. Committee on Learning, and P. Educational, How people learn : brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000.
2) I. Kant, M. Weigelt, and F. M. Müller, Critique of pure reason. London; New York: Penguin, 2007


List of books related to learning, teaching, and higher education

After investing my time to find and read several books related to theories and practice in human learning, teaching, and higher education, here is a list of books that I have read and regard as useful and interesting. Some might find it useful when looking for their own reading material.

Educational Testing and Measurement: Classroom Application and Practice – Tom Kubiszyn, Gary Borich

Preparing Instructional Objectives – Mager, Robert F.

Designing Effective Instruction – Jerrold E. Kemp, Steven Ross, Gary R. Morrison

Achieving Educational Excellence: A Critical Assessment of Priorities and Practices in Higher Education – Alexander W. Astin

Designing Engineers – Bucciarelli, Louis L.

Learning: Behavior and Cognition – Lieberman, David A.

Love, Justice, and Education: John Dewey and the Utopians – Schubert, William H

A Handbook For Teaching & Learning In Higher Education: Enhancing Academic Practice – Fry, Heather

Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom – Johnson, David W.

Teaching and Learning in the College Classroom – Feldman, Kenneth A.

How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation – Bousquet, Marc

Tools for Teaching – Davis, Barbara

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers – McKeachie, Wilbert James

Education and Social Justice – Zajda, J.

The 21st-Century Engineer: A Proposal for Engineering Education Reform – Galloway, Patricia D.

Discussion-Based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning: Theory, Practice and Assessment – Bender, Tisha

Unified Theories of Cognition – Newell, Allen

Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses – Arum, Richard

Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools – Kozol, Jonathan

Theories of Development: Concepts and Applications – Crain, William

Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Human Learning – Jarvis, Peter

Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America – Rose, Mike

What the Best College Teachers Do – Bain, Ken

Theories of Childhood: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky – Mooney, Carol Garhart

Handbook of College Teaching: Theory and Applications – Sawyer, R. McLaran

How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching – Ambrose, Susan A.

Teaching Engineering – Wankat, Phillip C.

The Advancement Of Learning – Bacon, Francis

Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher – Brookfield, Stephen D.

The Power of Critical Theory: Liberating Adult Learning and Teaching – Brookfield, Stephen D.

Experience and Education – Dewey, John

Democracy and Education – Dewey, John

Successful Classroom Management: Real-World, Time-Tested
Techniques for the Most Important Skill Set Every Teacher
Needs – Eyster, Richard H.

Hope this helps. Enjoy!



The role of humor in higher education

I have just seen this post on Inside Higher Ed website, so I thought it will be a nice note to end the semester with a smile. Or at least a reflection upon it, and a smile already ready for the start of the next semester.

I personally cannot imagine lecturing without an occasional humorous comment.  We all deal with frequently difficult and serious academic topics. But I don’t see the reason why we shouldn’t smile from to time while discussing them. And after all, the psychological benefits of smiling are probably far greater than any potential undermining of the learning topic. Of course, there are always exceptions and situations when teacher needs to be firm and reserved, but in general, I would always recommend smiling over all the other facial expressions.