October 27: Prominent U.S. education blog cites passage from CME dean’s text | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

October 27: Prominent U.S. education blog cites passage from CME dean’s text

Posted on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

A leading education blog run by the San Franciso-based Center for Science and Mathematics Education recently posted a lengthy excerpt from Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, co-edited by CME Dean Julia Christensen Hughes. Under the heading Why Are Students So Passive?, the posting refers to Taking Stock as “an excellent new book” on post-secondary pedagogy and introduces the excerpt from Maryellen Weimer, professor emeritus of Teaching and Learning at The Pennsylvania State University. Learn more about this blog post.

Dr. Christensen Hughes has also generated much discussion on improvements to pedagogy in recent weeks following her question-and-answer session with The Globe and Mail’s education reporter Elizabeth Church. The following is a small sample from both sides of the discussion:

I was proud to see a fellow Guelph alum in the spotlight for making ‘big changes to big things.’ Your comments about needing to reinvent the role of the professor and the institution in the business of educating young people and equipping them for a productive future really resonated with me. . . . I can’t tell you how glad I am that you’re focused on freshening up the approach at Guelph.
Jan G. van der Hoop, President, HiringSmart

I enjoyed reading your answers in yesterday's Globe regarding lectures. I think we refer to it in high school as the "sit, git and spit" method of learning, which is anachronistic to say the least. . . . Until universities reconfigure not just the lecture hall but their post-secondary thinking we will continue to export many students who get little more than a high school experience at university. . . . Universities that seek to change their learning environments that support collaboration, innovation, engagement and self-directed discovery are the future.
Dave Suchanek, secondary school teacher

I teach at a university, and many of my students share Dean Julia Christensen Hughes's view that lectures, books etc. are passé because “if you are curious about something you just Google it” (Q&A – Sept. 6). I find it hard to blame my 19-year-olds for holding this naive idea. But it's downright scary to see it articulated by a dean of a supposedly reputable Canadian university.
Glenn Parsons, Department of Philosophy, Ryerson University

Information is not knowledge. At its best, knowledge is an interpretation of information that might lead to wisdom. The job of a professor is to profess and pass on knowledge. Some do this better than others. Lectures and seminars are a proven method of teaching students. 

The problem is class size. They're too large. But large classes save money. Universities want to save money. One modest suggestion might be to reduce the size of university administrations, thus freeing up able people to return to “their first love” – teaching. It also wouldn't be a bad idea for those academics forced to remain in administration to teach a course or two in their beloved classrooms.
Virgil Hammock, professor emeritus of fine arts, Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B.

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