Making Connections in Education to Improve Your Teaching
Teaching is a complex human endeavor that requires passion, dedication, compassion, creativity and scholarship. One is not born a great teacher, but becomes one through thoughtful, scholarly teaching. Good teaching links information with the daily existence of the student and professor. The challenge of effective teaching, as measured by student learning, is to find connections that foster motivation, knowledge building, thinking and integration of old and new information, and bridge the real and academic worlds of both students and teachers. We provide you with 5 ways to connect your teaching to student’s learning.
Connecting Education from Kindergarten to Graduate SchoolThe educational landscape includes many types of connections. An important one is the link between the educational pathways from kindergarten to graduate school. What and how we teach needs to build upon how content is presented and assessed, and how students learn, as they progress along their educational journey. Most teachers teach as they were taught and students prefer familiar teaching approaches. However, as educators, we need to use a spectrum of pedagogies and technologies for learning and adapt to an ever-changing educational landscape. One approach that helps students succeed in a changing landscape is to ask them to reflect on their learning in short writing or discussion forum assignments. This not only helps the individual process their learning but provides ideas and incentives that other students can build upon. ASM’s teaching resources provide a treasure trove of vetted images, pedagogies and other teaching and learning assessments that can assist teachers.
Connecting Content to Students’ LivesThe second type of connection is making content relevant to students’ lives. The current pandemic provides a plethora of opportunities to connect content to the ongoing crisis. It is important to consciously choose examples that promote and honor diversity. Use culturally diverse examples that show the impact and role of microbes in various cultures.
Connecting Your Research to Teaching and Vice VersaA third example is to connect one’s research to one’s teaching and vice versa. This is often referred to as Teaching as Research or TAR, and is a foundation principle at the Center for Integration of Research and Teaching and Learning. One important lesson that I discovered in my teaching journey is that many of the approaches that I learned and honed as a student, scientist and researcher apply to scholarly teaching.
- Defining a question or problem that one wants to address, e.g., how can I increase student learning of concepts versus memorization of facts.
- Creating and applying protocols (teaching approaches) that identify solutions to the question or problem.
- Developing and using appropriate assessments that measure the learning outcomes (data).
- Analyzing the data and formulating conclusions.