A while back I posed the question “What is Lincoln Excellence?” and encouraged you, dear readers, to chime in by taking a survey that asked “How do you practice excellence in your classroom? Give an example of a practice or teaching technique that you feel promotes excellence in teaching and learning.” I promised to share the answers, so here I go:
Seven people answered the question and there were a few common themes:
- Emphasize problem solving and teach students how to think, not what to think
- Combine some lecture or theory with group work that allows student to solve problems and discuss issues in groups
- Know the students and respect their opinions – teach students how to respect each other’s opinions
- Draw on same reading material and sources that are used at other reputable universities.
- Focus on learning and application rather than route memorization
- Push students to develop and grow by continually questioning everything
- Begin on time, use lessons plans to follow a well-developed syllabus, return assignments promptly
In the above list, there is one point that jumps out at me the most: Focus on learning and application rather than route memorization. This intrigues me, not only because I think it is extremely important – and probably the underlying reason why I use a lot of problem solving and discussion in all my classes, but because I think it is the most difficult to do well. It is so easy to ask students to memorize facts and then quiz them on those facts. It is much more difficult to come up with good assignments that includes the memorization, but then goes a step further and helps students find meaning in the memorized facts through real world application that helps them expand their learning and hopefully encourages them to become life-long learners. I would love to hear if anybody out there has figured out how to do this well!
What is your greatest challenge in achieving teaching and learning excellence?
If you intended to reply to the survey three weeks ago, but let it slip too far down into the abyss of your inbox or to-do list, here is another opportunity: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PJRY9HW
If you prefer to share directly in this blog, please go ahead and add your thoughts on Lincoln Excellence below.