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Title: Pathways to Scientific Teaching
Author(s): Diane Ebert-May and Janet Hodder (eds)
Date of Publication: 2009 Publisher: Sinauer
Pages:x + 212 ISBN: 978 0 87893 222 1
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Educator







Content: 1 –The first day of class - the most important; 2 - Faculty: organising the flow of class; 3 - Students: doing science; 4 - Students: reading science; 5 - Faculty and students: assessing multiple ways; 6- Students: preparing homework for class; 7 - Faculty: moving from assessment to research; 8 - Faculty - a community of researchers.

Review: Many of the texts reviewed here have an ecological theme which is hardly surprising. However there are a number which focus on the second part of the work for which this website was formed - teaching and learning. With teaching in all arenas getting globally more attention (and increasing formal direction) it is useful to see what information can be gleaned. This book started life at a meeting of the Ecological Society of America where College teachers were reflecting on their work. What follows is aimed at the higher education sector of the USA but there are parallels elsewhere.

Each chapter looks at an element of teaching. We open with a look at the very first day and some of the administrative tasks that need to be completed and how students view their class. Chapter two explores the idea of creating a learning structure. It does this not so much by providing a flow chart but by actually providing a handout and lesson plan (called an instructional guide here). In other words, the idea of teaching is bound up in what is taught. The student educator gets the whole package to use and reflect upon. Chapter three discusses strategies you can use with large groups of students. The focus is on 'doing science' but this means finding meaningful activities within lecture room/classroom settings. Again, there is a group of readings alongside ideas for assessment, in this case, of group dynamics. The next stage is getting students to both read and understand before the lesson or lecture. Two strategies are explored - the use of collaborative group learning by creating individual 'experts' and the use of modelling to help understanding. Chapter five turns to the question of assessment. Although it is vital to measure progress it is also time consuming and can be tedious. It follows that it needs to be effective for the student and cost-effective for the teacher. Three examples are given highlighting different aspects of assessment: using innovative assignments, peer assessment and problem solving. Another element that will resonate with teachers is getting homework done for class. Since one of the foci for this book is student-centred learning it is no surprise to see this as a key way forward. Three examples are provided which show how, by using outcome rubrics, students can engage with the homework and come to class better prepared. A final chapter describes how staff can use case studies to see how learning is proceeding.

Overall, this is a very interesting text. It takes common teaching problems and makes some interesting observations. The fact that the teaching mode and examples are heavily US-centric does not detract from the central, universal messages it is aiming to impart. Those engaged in teacher education of who are starting teaching from a research perspective would do well to read this text and take its central messages on board.





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