Posts Tagged ‘pedagogy’

I’ve had some experiences in my teaching this week that have left me seeking a greater focus in what I choose to teach my students. I heard through a colleague in my department that one of my students in my management information systems course feels like they’re in a snowstorm with so much new stuff coming at them. I keep feeling like 60 minutes is insufficient time, particularly in that class to have a meaningful discussion about even half of the material in the chapter of reading assigned for each day in class. We discussed two major topics (a review of principles of competitive advantage and an introduction to computer hardware), and we didn’t have enough time before the class session finished.  My colleague, who has taught this class, empathized with me, but indicated I’m still trying to cover too much, particularly when taking into account the size of my class and the language barriers we are working with here at BYU Hawaii. He said I’m just going to have to figure out which arm to feed to the shark, because something’s going to have to go.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend trying to get my class sessions more structured and modular, but apparently I need to streamline my overall approach further.  It seems I need to pick a single learning objective to focus each class session on, and to craft learning activities to support that single objective. I’m going to need to be more diligent in making the identification of each day’s learning objective a matter of prayer. Another colleague shared his teaching philosophy with me–that our job is to light a fire of interest in their hearts and to get them interacting with these tools as much as possible and let them direct their learning. It appears then, that I need to have the faith that, if I can motivate my students and provide them with enough of a foundation, that they will be able to return to the text or other reference material as they need more information.

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I think it’s out of pedagogical interest rather than a nascent love for programming that I’m sharing another tool for teaching programming. This one, DrawBot (Mac OS X) starts with visual experiments (a reversal from the introductory programming courses I took which focused on text-based activities first before moving into graphical interface activities).  According to the software home page,

“DrawBot is an ideal tool to teach the basics of programming. Students get colorful graphic treats while getting familiar with variables, conditional statements, functions and what have you.”

I’ve been reading some works by phenomenologists like Heidegger lately, and I’m starting to think perhaps much of our pedigogical approach to teaching technical skills focuses too much on abstractions and not enough on rich experiences. If expertise can be developed in some cases through experience and feedback without abstraction perhaps there’s a way I can change my approach in the classroom.

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