I have been dipping into this book – and it is a good ‘light read’. Certainly the kind of read I can manage on my commute home after a long day…. Although the context is american – I think the experiences that are the focus of the book are certainly readily transferable to the UK. Theresa Huston explores what many don’t like to admit in academia – we are often invited – and I use that word advisedly – to teach courses in areas we do not know very well. She goes on to recognise that the challenge of this is greater when we take into account that the students we are working with are very diverse in terms of culture, lifestyle and so on. Content expert and content novice labels are described as are the kinds of behaviours we adopt for each. Huston speaks humorously about the ‘challenges’ teaching what you don’t know presents. And she offers tips/strategies which are helpful. I am on the ‘Thinking in Class’ chapter at the moment and I have come across some activities that I plan to try out. Many are really simple – e.g. comparitive note-taking. Consider asking students to compare their notes with a neighbour say every 20 mins or so in a lecture. Or introduce it after a particularly challenging concept has been explored – will give students a chance to rework/amend their notes while concept still fairly fresh and when you are available to answer queries that can’t be resolved in the pairs. This has benefits in a large and small lecture situations – students have a chance in a less threatening environment (a pair) to unpick their own understanding of something – to consolidate it by clarifying for another – before checking against the model you might offer. And another called Participation Prep – tell the students you plan to ask a question further into the session – pose the question and get them to write an answer in their notes – this won’t be handed in or checked by you (assure them of this) but when you do get to the discussion part of the session you will ask some to share what they had written down. The question needs to be thought provoking rather than demanding simple recall. This may encourage all to pay greater attention to the initial input of the session that sets the context for the discussion – and it may give students who don’t often contribute to discussion more confidence because they have had some time to consider what they might say. A further benefit might be that a few minutes quiet time to gather thoughts (or not) will give all freedom to think unfettered by what others have already said – so a chance to think of own response. And not a problem if what they write down is voiced by others – they have had the idea themselves too. Still need to do some more thinking about this – I believe there are a couple of copies of this at Penrhyn Rd and up at Kingston Hill
Let me know what you think of it .