CHEC short course: teaching and learning

Today was the first day of a short course looking at teaching and learning and is pretty innovative in that it is co-ordinated by, and open to, academics from several higher educational institutions in the Western Cape. It’s being organised by the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC). The course runs for the next month, during which we attend a session a week, and includes an assignment component. In this case, the assignment is to develop and evaluate a teaching activity using principles from the course.

The content of the course is aimed at new lecturers or those with experience who’d like to explore new ideas in their teaching practices. I thought it’d be interesting to engage with people from other institutions and see what I could learn from them. The sessions are really short so there isn’t much time to cover a lot of ground. However, the interaction seemed pretty good today. Most of the notes below were thoughts I had that were inspired by what was said, and not really content from the session.

What do teachers and students do to create learning spaces?

Students’ learning behaviour is a response to the education system they’re a part of

Perceived relevance influences participation (it’s not necessarily about actual relevance)

Challenging boundaries can develop critical thinking

Definitions of learning are context dependent i.e. it’s hard to pin down a definition of what it means “to learn”. Remembering a fact is different to more efficiently performing a task, but both are “learning”

Bloom’s taxonomy implies that certain “types” of learning are more developed than others, but “Evaluation” can be done at a basic level, and “Remembering” can be complex

How do you enable self-expression as a means of developing creativity / engagement?

When we mediate teaching and learning experiences with technology, are we producing a fundamentally different thinking process? If we are, then “e-learning” isn’t just about using technology…then it really is something different that should stand alone

How does “what students do” impact on how they think? How can I make better use of our learning spaces to change students’ thinking?

How do you get students to prepare for class, engage during class, and follow up (reflect) after class, in order to reach specific learning objectives?

If you give homework, do you need to make sure that students do it? If the homework task is designed to develop thinking, and then you assess the students’ ability to think, doing the homework task stops being work for the sake of work. Completing the homework then has a real positive outcome in terms of facilitating deeper understanding, which increases the probability of the student being deemed “competent”, which makes them more likely to do the homework.

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