pedagogy

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Over the past few months, the entries in this blog series have attempted to provide guidance and insight related to the pedagogical challenges of teaching traumatic materials. The series was initiated to provide a sense of reassurance about facing these challenges. By discussing the range of challenges, the variety of ...

Over the past several years, there have been any number of events that have prompted professors to abandon their syllabi and lesson plans and create space for addressing events unfolding outside the walls of the classroom. This in-breaking of the contemporary, this pressure of the immediate, is often traumatic in ...

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Education Is Not an App: The Future of University Teaching in the Internet Age

Book-Review
Poritz, Jonathan A.; and Rees, Jonathan
2017
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
iconTags: educational technology   |   pedagogy   |   technological innovation

Reviewed by: Joanne Robinson
This book captures the frustration of many faculty who are witnessing the decline of faculty governance against the rise of administrative fiat, particularly in areas that impact pedagogical choice. In seven main chapters, the authors provide a detailed view of the systems and decisions that are so often thrust upon faculty. They do a superb job describing the landscape of MOOCs, FLOSS, and LMS in everyday language. They deal with ...

This book captures the frustration of many faculty who are witnessing the decline of faculty governance against the rise of administrative fiat, particularly in areas that impact pedagogical choice. In seven main chapters, the authors provide a detailed view of the systems and decisions that are so often thrust upon faculty. They do a superb job describing the landscape of MOOCs, FLOSS, and LMS in everyday language. They deal with a broad range of issues to show the ways in which faculty are being (sometimes willingly) deskilled through technology. These authors are not dismissive of technological innovation, but they are wary of some aspects of it. They are aware that this book will quickly become outdated but teachers will find that the evidence and core arguments presented here remain worthy of attention.

Education is Not an App is a manifesto of sorts, calling faculty to embrace their freedom to make pedagogical choices, a freedom that is often smothered by administrative decree. For instance, the authors argue, new learning management systems are often presented to faculty as across-the-board, time-saving solutions for all, not as the political flashpoints they should be. For these authors, educational technology tends to “seek constrained truth for the advantage of specific powers that be” (3), just as the simplest app constrains as it empowers.

Several key assumptions and at least one conclusion here might irk some readers. First is the assumption that face-to-face education is superior to online education, with very limited exceptions. The authors assert that the work that happens between people in classrooms produces more critical thinking, and therefore more meaningful learning than most experiences online. This reader agrees, but not all will. Another assumption is that faculty will have the ability (or the interest) to keep current with new technologies and will have institutional support in using the ones they choose, a lofty goal on both counts. Few faculty have the time to school themselves on emerging technologies, and pressures such as student evaluations reward conformity. These authors conclude, quite rightly, that faculty jobs are in danger because of the “the kind of university governance that makes this kind of [edtech] abuse possible” (37). This book highlights many issues that raise concern (not least, the rise of “instructional designers”), but we do not yet know that student learning suffers in this tech-heavy environment. The authors focus more on academic freedom and far less on student learning.

Poritz and Rees are correct that educational technology – with its unbundling and deskilling and administrative oversight – threatens academic freedom and the autonomy of thought we hope to teach our students. It invites monitoring and assessment that faculty should resist; at the very least, teachers should consider at length the costs of simplifying their teaching lives through technology. “At the risk of sounding alarmist” (74), faculty in all disciplines should read this book. Even those who resist as much as possible should be aware of the changing landscape. We gain and lose in the decisions that we make, but we stand to lose more from decisions made for us.

 

Exposing and disrupting the values which perpetuate white normativity puts a strain on the adult classroom. Individualism is a cornerstone value of whiteness and patriarchy.  As persons committed to the flimsy lie of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, too many students believe that education is best attempted alone. Conforming ...

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Non-Cognitive Skills and Factors in Educational Attainment

Book-Review
Khine, Myint Swe and Areepattamannil, Shaljan, eds.
2016
Sense Publishers
iconTags: higher education   |   non-cognitive skills   |   pedagogy   |   student learning

Reviewed by: Lisa Withrow
Editors Khine and Areepattamannil contribute to the series Contemporary Approaches to Research in Learning Innovations with volume nine, Non-cognitive Skills and Factors in Educational Attainment. The premise for the volume is that non-cognitive skills are equally important, or are even more important, than cognitive skills for effective educative processes and student success (3). Examples of non-cognitive skills include resilience (grit or toughness), well-being, social awareness, curiosity, creativity, work ethic, self-evaluation, collaboration, ...
Editors Khine and Areepattamannil contribute to the series Contemporary Approaches to Research in Learning Innovations with volume nine, Non-cognitive Skills and Factors in Educational Attainment. The premise for the volume is that non-cognitive skills are equally important, or are even more important, than cognitive skills for effective educative processes and student success (3). Examples of non-cognitive skills include resilience (grit or toughness), well-being, social awareness, curiosity, creativity, work ethic, self-evaluation, collaboration, self-regulation, self-confidence, and motivation (16). The book is organized in three parts: I – Introduction, II – Conceptual and Theoretical Underpinnings (on non-cognitive factors), and III – Evidence from Empirical Research Studies. In Part II, six chapters are devoted to the relationship between non-cognitive success in learning and the educational process. A key question is: “Why are non-cognitive constructs important?” (17). Research shows that the cognitive development of persons should be accompanied by intentional non-cognitive development for positive democratic citizenship and personal and social well-being. Authors call for teachers and policy-makers to be aware of the research that clearly shows the significance of non-cognitive learning, thereby challenging current curricula, teaching methods, disciplinary policies, student evaluations, activities, and utilization of assessments (chapter 3). Subsequent chapters in Part II focus on understanding roles of self-efficacy and emotional intelligence, a repertoire for educators based on their attention to non-cognitive factors, attitudinal changes regarding assessment and correlating interventions, and non-cognitive learning tied to academic performance. Part III provides evidence from empirical research studies that support non-cognitive factors being highly significant for student success both in school and after graduation. For example, self-confidence is a greater predictor of achievement than measures of socio-economic status (166). Passion, perseverance, and self-control contribute significantly to success as well (chapter 9). Chapter 13 provides recommendations for greater student success: provide self-regulation knowledge support for students to improve their preparedness; provide information about available supportive environments; evaluate creativity and practical skill sets equally to cognitive ability; and redesign education from a “fixed intelligence” foundation to a dynamic intelligence focus (311). Chapters 14 and 15 initiate a tested “mental toughness” curriculum for students, and analyze attributes required for such toughness. In contrast, the next chapter recommends socialization through school in early childhood that educates children in social norms and mores through the lens of justice, beneficence, faith, hope, and love rather than with fear, negativity, and external control (370). Issues of future wellness, performance in mathematics, and the impact of culture on non-cognitive skill sets follow in the final chapters. This volume provides exhaustive evidence for its premise. Yet, these studies challenge educators to think pedagogically about what we expect in the classroom and how we intend to educate the whole person in a dynamic learning conversation rather than in a “fixed” curriculum. This book is worthy of attention, and is likely best suited for faculty exploration in broad strokes rather than an essential read for all teachers.