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Excellent teaching empowers significant student learning about oneself, others, and the world in high-quality learning environments that embody a genuine sense of community.

High-quality learning environments: A learning environment encompasses the physical and social-cultural context within which students and teachers interact. The classroom can be described as a learning environment, but so also can a study room, a residence hall, the campus as whole, or settings beyond the university. Teachers and other students are the most important influences upon student learning environments within the university.

A genuine sense of community: A community is a group of individuals who have shared purposes, values, and/or beliefs. A community connects individuals to one another and to the rest of the world. A learning community can refer to students and teachers in a course or program, a department, a college, a residence hall, the university itself, or groups beyond the university. A genuine sense of community is a feeling that one belongs and is appreciated by other members of the community. A learning community makes connections among teachers, students, subject matter, educational purposes and goals, the university as a whole, and the larger world.

Two general statements identify and summarize significant student learning in terms of undergraduate education and the role of the teacher:

1)      "Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" (AAHE Bulletin, March 1987):

  • Encourage student-faculty contact.

  • Encourage cooperation among students (sharing backgrounds, use of study groups, peer tutoring).

  • Encourage active learning (students may summarize to the class, use role playing or simulations, use field trips or internships).

  • Give prompt feedback (prompt, detailed evaluations on performance).

  • Emphasize time on task (clarify class preparation expectations, emphasize the need for studying).

  • Communicate high expectations.

  • Respect different learning styles and talents (create a safe environment where students can ask questions; discourage uncivil remarks; use diverse teaching activities to encompass different learning styles). As quoted in Wilbert J. McKeachie, Teaching Tips (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), pp. 265-266.

2)      The Nature of Teaching:

"A teacher knows something not understood by others, presumably the students. The teacher can transform understanding, performance skills, or desired attitudes or values into pedagogical representations and actions. These are ways of talking, showing, enacting, or otherwise representing ideas so that the unknowing can come to know, those without understanding can comprehend and discern, and the unskilled can become more adept. 

"Thus, teaching necessarily begins with a teacher’s understanding of what is to be learned and how it is taught. It proceeds through a series of activities during which the students are provided specific instruction and opportunities for learning, though the learning itself ultimately remains the responsibility of the students. Teaching must properly be understood to be more than the enhancement of understanding [because it also must emphasize reasoning, transformation, and reflection]...."  Lee S. Shulman, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, (February, 1987).  “Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the New Reform” in Harvard Educational Review 57 (1), p. 7.

 
   

Last modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2002
Copyright 2002 Center For The Enhancement Of Teaching
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