Craig Nelson

  • How We Defeat Ourselves: Dysfunctional Illusions of Rigor (Key Lessons From The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning)

    Craig Nelson, Indiana University

    From reading the pedagogical literature and watching my own classes, I slowly realized that much of my pedagogy, though standard practice, was having the opposite of its intended effect. Pedagogical practices that are commonly assumed to demand more from students and thereby increase their achievement actually seemed to interfere with their success. Thus began a search for changes that would increase the number of students whose performance earned an A grade in my courses without lowering the expectations. We will examine evidence from the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning that suggests that the following beliefs, often held by faculty (as I once did), are often dysfunctional illusions:

    1. Hard courses weed out weak students: when students fail it is due mainly to inability, weak preparation or lack of effort.
    2. A good clear argument in plain English can be understood by any bright student who applies herself.
    3. Traditional methods of instruction provide proven effective ways of teaching content to undergraduates. Modes which pamper students teach less content.
    4. If we cover more content, the students will learn more
    5. Traditional methods of instruction are fair to a wide range of diverse students of good ability.
    6. Students should come to us knowing how to read and write and do essay and multiple choice questions.
    7. It is essential that students hand in papers on time and take exams on time. Giving them flexibility and second chances is pampering them.
    8. Classroom instruction is demonstrably better than distance education.