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Teaching & Learning Links

General Teaching Tips for Science and Math

  • In this excellent tutorial on how to revamp your science course the Center for Professional Development of Geoscience Faculty explains that students must actually practice what you preach in order to understand the material.
  • Do we need to make changes to our teaching? Isn’t how we teach how we were taught—and we got it...so why can’t they? Why should we worry about trying to engage and encourage? A Cell/Developmental Biology review paper about how we teach and how we learn by William Wood gives an excellent overview of the problem at hand.
  • The Essential Guide to Teaching from Kansas University is an excellent resource filled with both basic and advanced advice on running your class: course preparation, writing a syllabus, lecturing, assessment, etc! The entire KU Center for Teaching Excellence site is packed with useful and applicable information, and is well worth checking out.

Syllabus Tips: Crucial for course (re)design

Classroom Issues and Potential Solutions

  • The Solve a Teaching Problem site at Carnegie Mellon walks you through a step by step process of identifying a problem in the classroom (students don't come to class, students complain about rigor of class, students don't come prepared, etc) and then offers suggestions. It isn't an exhaustive list by any means- but it is a nice resource when you have a specific issue to address.

Presentation Tips & Ideas

  • Remember-- you are a researcher! Bring news of new exciting research as it applies to the class. This is especially important if you can bring in your own (as appropriate to the level and to the topic)-- because you then stand as a credible scientist in front of the class in addition to serving as a teacher.
  • Need inspiration? Using thrilling new breakthroughs in science that relate to your topic immediately increases the significance of your subject by showing its applicability. Make www.newscientist.com, www.sciencedaily.com, or one of these 15 websites your homepage or a daily visit to gather material: www.ebizmba.com/articles/science-websites.
  • Berkeley’s Center for Teaching and Learning gives practical tips on teaching—including student complaints about lectures, and how to approach a large lecture course: http://teaching.berkeley.edu/lecturing
  • How to give a great speech: Ok- so we have more experience giving "speeches" than most people—but many of the tips and ideas here can be taken straight to your lecture. The first is from Toastmasters and is a list of the top 10 mistakes of public speakers (if you stick to this list it is free, other links offer $$$ memberships/meetings, etc); the second is from Forbes and focuses on what to do to convey information more effectively.
  • The Passionate Fact by Susan Strauss. Fulcrum Publishing, 1996 (reprinted 2004); ISBN-10: 1555919251 ISBN-13: 978-1555919252. Review from The Green Teacher: "In the 152-page gem The Passionate Fact, storyteller Susan Strauss takes us through the literary, visual and musical aspects of storytelling with tips on how to research a story, anecdotes about storytelling and practice techniques in the art of listening. Ably demonstrating that storytelling appeals to young and old alike, the book may inspire educators to take up storytelling or to infuse some of the techniques into their teaching of science, environmental studies and history."
  • Connecting Science & Storytelling in Astronomy

Discipline Specific Resources

Physics

  • Stanford's Center for Teaching and Learning maintains an iTunes channel with a plethora of great podcasts and recordings that speak to transforming college teaching. Search for “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer” A talk (12/08) by a Harvard physicist about lecturing/active learning/how do you know what your students actually know. He starts out by saying he thought he was a good teacher: high evaluation scores and students were doing well on his complicated exams. Then he used an external measure of assessment to see if they could apply the information learned- and they couldn’t. He decides to change his entire perspective on teaching. View in iTunes (free).
  • Interactive Physics: Designed as an "entertaining method of introducing the world of subatomic physics to kids and adults" this site can be used as a supplement in college classes as well to help students understand subatomic physics.

Chemistry

  • A thoughtfully compiled website (most links tested work) with many links to chemistry sites. Drills, tasks, explanations, experiments to try at home, blogs, worksheets sets, tutorials, videos, etc!

Math

  • This 2009 paper provides a case study on why students may be math-avoidant and how to reduce that anxiety. It is delivered in a very informal style with many personal stories from a team at Portland State University.
  • Make math more engaging: Some of these k-12 ideas are relevant in the college classroom:
  • Resources for Developmental Mathematics and Adult Basic Education Instructors: This PDF is a 19-page list of websites (it is from 2009, but most still work, or are google-able!) of varying interest to university mathematics professors. The topics range from: finding Pi in crop circles, tips for teaching math to distance learners, tips to give your students to reduce math anxiety, a selection of math books and movies, online math manipulatives and more!

Biology

Engineering

  • The 8/11/08 lecture teaching "difficult" subjects by Stanford professor Chris Edwards is a look at how to make traditionally "difficult" or "unappealing" subjects interesting through changes in your teaching techniques.