Just returned from the biannual conference of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. What an excellent conference with an excellent group of people! I will be posting a few entries related to presentations and workshops I attended at the conference.
One was by Kristin Schaupp at Univ. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who said that in large philosophy courses, one assignment she has used with success is a poster. Instead of having each student do one, she breaks the class into groups who stay together the entire term. One of their assignments as a group is to create a poster, similar to those presented at conferences in the social and natural sciences. They have several “poster days” at the end of the term, so that each group has a chance to show their poster and discuss it with other students in the audience. Continue reading
Upon reflecting on my own lecture style, I found that it is very common for me to spend lectures outlining arguments from the assigned texts–I present main points in the text as I see them, and the supporting arguments. I am acting as interpreter of the texts, which is not surprising given the difficult nature of many philosophical texts and the fact that I am often teaching first- or second-year students (many of which have had little to no experience reading such texts). But of course, in doing this I am discouraging students from outlining the arguments themselves, trying to come to grips with them in the readings before coming to lecture. Why do careful reading of the text before class if the professor is just going to tell you what the text says (in his/her own interpretation)? Some students will do so anyway and then be able to ask good questions and offer alternative readings, but many will not. Continue reading