10 of Lehman’s new faculty members met yesterday to begin a semester-long exploration of Daniel T. Willingham’s book, Why Don’t Students Like School? in connection with their own teaching and learning practices. Partnered with a Google site to facilitate a hybrid approach to the seminar, the weekly meetings ask faculty members to read, discuss, and share their experiences as students and instructors across disciplines and to examine the research Willingham presents as evidence of cognitive science principles that affect successful learning.
We began with a quick free-writing response to the question, “why don’t teachers like to grade?” Our partner discussions and whiteboard word pool revealed that there is a feeling of disconnection between the products of our work with students (what we grade) and the qualities of our interactions during class times and office hours. We also shared a general sense of concern about the difference between the significance we give to grades and the importance that students place on grades (we’re interested in what and how they learned, but the students are often more interested in numeric and letter values).
We then passed stories back and forth to share why we like to learn and what we’ve been most excited to learn in the past few weeks. Anne Marie Marshall, Assistant Professor in the Childhood Graduate Program, demonstrated an unusual method of calculating the product of two digit numbers. Beatríz Lado, Assistant Professor of Spanish Languages and Literatures, spoke about discovering new uses of language with her students and the social interactions that energize learning for her.
After a review of the seminar materials and Google site, we took time to look at Willingham’s 9 principles (see the Files section in the Lehman Faculty Professional Development group) and identified those we felt most counter-intuitive. Willingham’s challenge to learning styles as well as emphasis on factual knowledge preceding skill are two principles we anticipate debating at length!
Over the next few months, we will be sharing our teaching challenges, identifying objectives for this term and the next year, and co-constructing the Google site to better suit our needs. Next week, self-assessment and objectives will help us begin to match how we learn and teach with our readings and conversations.