Rethinking Teaching: Making Connections

Jul 06, 2012

by Shauna Jones

A strategic focus for the Beedie School of Business is to educate, engage and inspire the responsible leaders of tomorrow. To do this we design and deliver distinctive, relevant, and responsive programs. As a teacher, I want to create significant learning experiences for my students so that they can apply their learning in the workplace in a way that has meaning for them. Yet, for many teachers, it is often difficult to have concentrated ‘time away’ from teaching and research responsibilities to improve the art and science of our teaching.

At the end of April I was fortunate to have ‘time away’ to participate in the four-day Rethinking Teaching: A Course Design Workshop offered by the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC). I took the workshop because I wanted to improve students’ perception of BUS360W: Business Communications. Having worked as a career counsellor for a number of years, I saw the impact of communication skills on one’s employability. Although many students tell me a semester or more after they have completed the course how it helped improve their communication, they did not enjoy the course at the time of taking it. By participating in the Rethinking Teaching workshop I was hoping to change this. I want my students to understand the significance of the BUS360W while taking it – not just after. The workshop helped me do that.

My colleague, Christian Venhuizen, who also attended the workshop, summed up the Rethinking Teaching workshop by saying, “it provided me with a chance to step back from teaching BUS360W to try and view it more objectively, to learn how to incorporate more chances for weekly peer instruction and discussion, and to make better connections between the course learning goals and the formal assignments and informal exercises.

Lead by Cheryl Amundsen, Associate Professor with the Faculty of Education, the design of the workshop modeled excellent pedagogical practice. We learned the principles for designing good courses in plenary and then applied the learning to our own course design or redesign.

One resource I found extremely helpful was Fink’s taxonomy of significant learning. Fink places emphasis on creating significant learning experiences that learners find meaningful rather than on how much is learned. His model for designing a course provides you with a step by step approach to design your own course. Fink’s book, Creating Significant Learning Experience: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses is an expanded version of the above link and is good reading for those interested in engaging their students more.

Both Christian and I found the Rethinking Teaching workshop both refreshing and well worth our time. Contact the TLC for information on the workshop and their next offering.

BSB Teaching and Learning Group’s Fall Offerings

We are still formulating the offerings for the fall. So far we are looking at:
• An update on the Assurance of Learning
• Teachers Share – a session where those who recently attended conferences share significant learning

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