Theory

About pedagogical research and conjecture regarding learning.

Thursday 24 July 2008

  • The Ten Commandments of Teaching Creative Writing - Paul Miller has posted an excellent entry on his blog, PaulsPen, called "Thou Shall Have Balance: The Ten Commandments of Teaching Creative Writing." Here they are. Each is explained in great depth on his blog, so be sure to visit his site: I. Thou shall teach both theory and practice... (17:01 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Monday 9 June 2008

  • The Kindergarchy (or, Too Much Love in the Home, Not Enough Pain in the Class) - Are we bending under the oppressive rule of children? Do kids have too much power? There are days, I think, when every teacher wonders this, even at the college level. Dennis Jerz posts a good response to this idea, particularly in terms of catholic teaching, as raised by Joseph Epstein... (10:41 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Sunday 1 June 2008

  • Jazzy Teaching: Improv, Collaboration and Expertise - I was browsing through a list of open source academic journals on the web this morning and found Critical Studies in Improvisation -- a journal of music and performance theory, mostly -- whose latest issue [Vol 3, No 2 (2007)] is a Special Issue on Improvisation and Pedagogy. Having studied... (08:26 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Wednesday 9 April 2008

  • The Radical Impossibility of Course Outcomes - "...however effectively one 'prepares' for a class, the realities of learning alter the original orientation in a number of creative and unpredictable ways. If the structure is too tight, or the scenario is too predictable, then we move towards a tightly organized outcomes-based approach to learning. We end up... (16:08 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Friday 28 March 2008

  • Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education (& Technology) - This afternoon I attended a great Teaching & Learning Forum on our campus on the topic of teaching with technology. Mary Spataro -- our campus technology-enhanced learning guru and Instructional Design pro -- ran a healthy discussion on implementing technology in a way that supports the Seven Principles for Good... (21:12 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Monday 17 March 2008

  • Do We Always Know When We Are Teaching? - ...one question we might ask is: "Do we always know when we are teaching?" I do not think we do. The single most important thing I learned as an undergraduate may have been that I was capable of graduate study. I learned this from a professor who had no idea... (19:09 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Friday 8 February 2008

  • Questionstorming Revisited - "Half my job is asking questions of those who can’t generate questions, in order to model the will to curiosity." -- from "Creative Writers in the Academy," by Orante Churm Churm got me musing over this great line in his otherwise provocatively subversive essay. As a creative writing instructor, I... (23:30 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Monday 28 January 2008

  • Humor in Genre Writing - During my sabbatical, I had the opportunity to be a guest writer for a weekend at the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop -- an outstanding workshop for writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror literature, run each summer out of St. Anselm college in New Hampshire (a place you may recognize... (08:57 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Sunday 20 January 2008

  • Professors Strike Back - And...scene! I'm back. Have been returned to campus after sabbatical, actually, for about six months so far -- I just haven't been blogging, and I apologize, but I've been rather busy. I will likely talk more about sabbatical and such later on. But for now, here's something fun that I... (15:41 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Saturday 29 April 2006

  • On Sabbatical - I am going on sabbatical for the full 2006-7 academic year, in order to secure time to develop my next novel. While I intend to keep researching and reflecting on teaching during that time, I've decided to put Pedablogue on hiatus until August 2007, when I return to full-time teaching.... (09:17 | 0 Trackbacks | 10 Comments)

Saturday 15 April 2006

  • College Professor: The Second Best Job in America? - On cable news this morning, I caught a special report from CNN/Money Magazine on the "Best Jobs in America." And while I expected to see something like "software engineer" come in first place, I was very surprised to find "college professor" ranked 2nd in the nation, for "best job"! What's... (15:05 | 0 Trackbacks | 3 Comments)

Friday 10 March 2006

  • Getting Tenure - Happy news. I received tenure in my position as Associate Professor of English at Seton Hill University this week. I'm grateful. To mark the occasion, soon I'll be writing letters to the important teachers I've had in my life, just to share the good news and to let them know... (23:25 | 0 Trackbacks | 9 Comments)

Wednesday 22 February 2006

  • The Interplay Between School and College - Just received this news about an interesting forum on the dynamics between different levels of school, so I'm spreading the word: The Chronicle of Higher Education will next month publish School & College, a special report that will explore the interplay between primary, secondary, and higher education. The publication will... (14:33 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Monday 23 January 2006

  • A Few Thinkpieces: PopFic | Specialization | Work - I'm trying not to blog until I finish writing a short story I've promised to an anthology editor. But I thought I'd post a few links to interesting reading I did online this winter, relevant to teaching. Student Pressure and Your Average English Department by Sanford Pinsker. The 'Irascible Professor'... (18:52 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Wednesday 12 October 2005

  • Comfortably Objective - Take a look at one of the course objectives from my syllabus for Literary Criticism (a 300-level course in theory and analysis): "To become comfortable reading academic criticism and applying critical methods in your writing" Seems like a good objective, no? At a recent faculty workshop on Bloom's taxonomy, I... (07:41 | 0 Trackbacks | 7 Comments)

Friday 23 September 2005

  • A Return to Taxonomy - In my entry "Remembering the Objective of Learning Objectives" two years ago, I wrote about Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives and how it gives teachers a great way to think about course design -- from syllabus construction to assignments. This term, our campus is hosting "Teaching and Learning Forums" which... (23:23 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Saturday 10 September 2005

  • Tomorrow's Professor - I've been meaning to plug a really great e-mail listserv on Pedablogue for quite some time: Tomorrow's Professor, led by Richard M. Reis (author of a book by the same title). I subscribe to this newsletter, which disseminates wonderfully thoughful essays about college teaching (usually excerpts from current books by... (10:17 | 0 Trackbacks | 4 Comments)

Monday 5 September 2005

  • The Difficulty Paper - In my Composition course this semester, I'm going to assign something called a "Difficulty Paper" -- a task in writing about the things students find difficult to understand when reading an essay, ranging from vocabulary to turns in an argument to theoretical references -- in response to an essay they'll... (15:12 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Wednesday 24 August 2005

  • Shifting the Paradigm: Transformative Learning Theory - This morning I read an article by Kelly McGonigal posted at Stanford's Center for Teaching and Learning, called "Teaching for Transformation: From Learning Theory to Teaching Strategies" [note: this link opens a PDF File]. McGonigal outlines "transformative learning theory" -- a concept developed by Jack Mezirow -- in order to... (10:36 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Saturday 16 July 2005

  • Getting By In Class...with HP Pavillion Notebooks - A professor drones about chemical compounds in front of a lecture auditorium brimming with students. The kids dutifuly take notes. The hip ones have laptops -- HP Pavillion notebooks. The camera takes turns closing in on different students in the room, dodging the teacher's attention to press a button on... (12:19 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Tuesday 5 July 2005

  • Adbusters: Game of Life - The latest print issue (July/Aug 2005, #60) of Adbusters magazine is worth picking up at the newsstand. The primary theme of the magazine is "The Game of Life" -- and even though the whole magazine is well-designed as if it were that Milton Bradley game (by, for example, placing "Move... (10:56 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Wednesday 29 June 2005

  • Debate on Teacher's Pay - Two economists -- Michael Podgursky and Lawrence Mishel -- are debating whether or not teachers are underpaid on the National Council on Teacher Quality website. A very interesting conversation. This is the NCTQ's first "Square Off" dialogue, and I hope they'll continue this. You can vote for who you feel... (14:09 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Saturday 18 June 2005

  • Impro II: Status - In this entry, I continue and conclude my discussion of Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone (New York: Routledge, 1981) and its implications for educators. For my earlier discussions of Chapter I visit here and here. CHAPTER TWO: STATUS In the second chapter of Impro, Johnstone focuses on... (11:37 | 0 Trackbacks | 5 Comments)

Tuesday 14 June 2005

  • Impro Ia: Related Reading - In my discussion of chapter one of Impro, I talk about Keith Johnstone's notion that students fear failure and this becomes a blockage to learning. I just read a blog entry by John Moore at Brand Autopsy called "Lessons Learning from Improv" that summarizes some key life lessons he gleaned... (19:57 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Sunday 12 June 2005

  • Impro I: Notes on Myself - Years ago, my old writing friend Bruce Holland Rogers mentioned a book to me called Impro by Keith Johnstone. It's a book about improvisational theater, but Bruce said it really taught him a lot about the creative process as a writer. I've finally gotten around to reading this book, and... (22:21 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Sunday 29 May 2005

  • Grossing Out Teacher - Ever assign a creative writing exercise, and have a student go "too far"? I have. In fact, my personae as horror author seems to invite it. In my article, "Grossing Out Teacher: A Horror Writer in the Writing Classroom" -- just published in the latest issue of The Broadsheet --... (18:41 | 0 Trackbacks | 7 Comments)

Friday 6 May 2005

  • Against Professional Development - I just signed on board the campus Professional Development Committee for the next academic year. I was attracted to this committee as an offshoot of the sort of "scholarship of teaching" I've been doing on this weblog, and I'm interested in learning how other teachers seek development in addition to... (23:49 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Saturday 12 March 2005

  • Cynicism in the Pedablogosphere - Most of the edublogs I’ve come across are engaging, insightful, and… down-right horrifying. While the blogs maintained by professors and teachers who disclose their identity can deliver a harsh dose of teaching reality, the write-ups by anonymous professors are far more honest. And scathing. And entirely intimidating. --Kate Cielinski I'm... (12:01 | 0 Trackbacks | 4 Comments)

Thursday 24 February 2005

  • Professors of Practice - I read a news article at Inside Higher Ed today, called "Holding Out for Tenure," which talks about how some schools are dealing with instructors who are employed full-time or nearly so, but not given the opportunity for tenure. Roughly 34% of all full-time faculty are not tenured or tenure-track.... (10:20 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Sunday 20 February 2005

  • Confronting Change - Just passing along some enlightening reflections on change I've spotted on the web recently: John Spurlock reflects on how one can't escape the problem of race when teaching American history, even when far away in the classrooms of Montenegro. (He also just posted a good article on European Educational Reform).... (11:50 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Friday 18 February 2005

  • All for One (Grade) - A few weeks ago my Literary Criticism class was discussing Roland Barthes' "The Death of the Author" and the notion of the intentional fallacy. Along the way, the idea of ownership of writing came up and so I asked them a question that threw them for the proverbial loop: "What... (12:45 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Sunday 16 January 2005

  • Turnitin dot Culture - Matthew S. Willen's "Reflections on the Cultural Climate of Plagiarism," from the latest issue of Liberal Education, looks at the way that plagiarism -- as a way of working the system in a way to win at any cost -- is endorsed by our culture-at-large. It comes as no news... (11:58 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Wednesday 12 January 2005

  • The 8th Habit - Stephen Covey (author of the classic self-help book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) has a new book out on The 8th Habit. What is it? To "find your voice and inspire others to find theirs." Sounds an awful lot like what it means to be a teacher to... (20:44 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Sunday 2 January 2005

  • On Reading and Teaching - One of the books I've been reading over the break is a computer software instruction guide. That probably sounds boring to most folks, but to me it's a pleasure read because most of what I read I read analytically and critically -- as a writer, I'm always analyzing an author's... (18:08 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Sunday 26 December 2004

  • Reforming Academic Rank - In "Simplifying the Academic Hierarchy," John Jeffries Martin argues that the "associate professor" title should be abolished. Building on Max Weber's Marxist thinking about the bureaucracy in the American university system, Martin proposes that the best way to reform the rank system of the professoriate is to hold a probationary... (04:09 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Tuesday 21 December 2004

  • Test Anxiety and the A Student - The topic of exam stress comes up at the end of every semester, but a recent post on Dan Mitchell's "Teachnology" blog points to a new twist on this old topic: how test anxiety impacts good students. An interesting article in the "health" section of today's NY Times -- "Why... (17:41 | 0 Trackbacks | 4 Comments)

Monday 13 December 2004

  • Measuring the Credit Hour - Sometimes the simplest concepts are the most problematic. Take, for example, the notion of the "credit hour." It seems like a self-evident term: one earns a college "credit" for an "hour" of academic work. But quantifying work is a very complicated affair and one "hour" of work is often a... (19:13 | 0 Trackbacks | 4 Comments)

Thursday 9 December 2004

  • Who's the Boss? Paying to Work - Just read "Grading System Gets an F" -- a campus newspaper article by a student at my alma mater, University of Oregon -- which is getting some great buzz and commentary at Jerz' weblog right now. In the article, Ailee Slater complains: the University system makes absolutely no sense. Students... (10:53 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)
  • Teaching is Truth Mediated by Personality - "Teaching is truth mediated by personality." -- Phyllis Brooks In related news: I've added an "About" page to Pedablogue.... (03:15 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Monday 29 November 2004

  • Grades and Student Motivation - On his weblog, Dennis Jerz responds to James Lang's essay, "Failing to Motivate" in a recent issue of The Chronicle. Lang's article anecdotally addresses the assumption that a low grade can motivate a student to work harder, arguing that "we don't know our students well enough to make the kinds... (10:42 | 0 Trackbacks | 5 Comments)

Saturday 27 November 2004

  • Student Engagement, Revisited - I caught news of the just-released 2004 National Survey of Student Engagement in a recent article in The Chronicle (which is available online for a limited time). Addressing the degree to which students are "engaged" in their studies, it also features some interesting results about college student study habits, student... (19:02 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Wednesday 17 November 2004

  • Is Discourse Human Research? - At a recent meeting of writing instructors, we learned that students who conduct surveys for freshman composition courses are potentially violating campus policies regarding human research. Some have received warning letters from our campus' Human Research Committee. This surprised me, mostly because I have never encountered this issue before in... (22:11 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Saturday 9 October 2004

  • Derrida Dead - "Philosophy consists of offering reassurance to children. That is, if one prefers, of taking them out of childhood, of forgetting about the child, or, inversely, but by the same token, of speaking first and foremost for that little boy within us, of teaching him to speak—to dialogue—by displacing his fear... (13:40 | 0 Trackbacks | 1 Comments)

Sunday 26 September 2004

  • Teaching the Odd Course - Today I was directed to a website for the "Top Ten Odd College Courses" buried under MSN Encarta's webpage on College. And as I read, I wondered: Should I be worried that I've actually taught one of these "oddities" before (to wit: "The Horror Film in Context")? Actually, I found... (13:39 | 0 Trackbacks | 3 Comments)

Saturday 18 September 2004

  • Outrageously Theatrical Teaching - Earlier in the week Jerz's Literacy Weblog pointed to a news story on The Denver Channel about a teacher who tore a bible in half in front of her classroom during a discussion of Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451, in order to illustrate the concept of censorship. Sure, it might... (20:11 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)

Sunday 12 September 2004

  • Back to the Front - I've been moping a little bit this weekend because -- after a year's "release" from teaching the freshman composition course (my first "break" from teaching basic writing classes in twelve years of teaching) -- I'm back at "the front lines" of what many teachers would term a "service" course (i.e.,... (14:52 | 0 Trackbacks | 3 Comments)

Friday 25 June 2004

  • Disciplinary Lying - I had an old teacher who, when you said something you thought was very smart, would say, "That's an exaggeration in the direction of truth." I have always thought that was the best definition I have ever heard of the academic enterprise.-- Jonathan Z. Smith In "The Necessary Lie: Duplicity... (20:12 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Monday 31 May 2004

  • No Child Left Behind - Is the No Child Left Behind Act creating a hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots" even before any sanctions are placed on schools that don't meet assessment standards? In "School Pushes Reading, Writing, Reform" by Linda Perlstein in today's Washington Post, we learn that some schools, primarily, schools "that have... (12:07 | 0 Trackbacks | 11 Comments)

Tuesday 25 May 2004

  • Summer Reading - What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain (director of NYU's Center for Teaching Excellence) [The Chronicle of Higher Education features what appears to be an excerpt or abstract of the book in Bain's essay, "What Makes Great Teachers Great". What follows is an excerpt...] Highly effective teachers approach... (23:15 | 0 Trackbacks | 2 Comments)

Wednesday 5 May 2004

  • Gallery of Teaching and Learning - It's final's week here and on top of grading papers from all my courses, I've got two (out of three) novel-length theses to evaluate as part of our MA Program in Writing Popular Fiction. So I'm too busy to blog. But I did want to quickly link to what appears... (14:44 | 0 Trackbacks | 0 Comments)