Alignment of theory to practice

As we have moved through the program I have become increasingly appreciative of the mentorship I received in my early university teaching career. Those relationships—most specifically with Professors Allison Tom, Tom Sork and Dan Pratt—have served me exceedingly well fifteen years later.

Professor Tom first proposed the idea of having my teaching reviewed by a member of the professoriate; unsurprisingly I asked her to review my teaching and she provided substantive, thoughtful, forthright feedback. In the end I felt more confident in what I did well and more motivated to work on areas that needed improvement.

Professor Sork was the supervising professor when I first taught ADHE329 (Designing Short Courses, Workshops and Seminars). My qualifications to teach the course were a strong background in designing and delivering such adult educational programs, and having completed Prof. Sork’s graduate seminar on program planning the year prior. For my first university teaching experience I inherited a fully designed—comprehensively, marvellously organized, wholly aligned—course, complete with detailed course syllabus. My appreciation for that course increased as my teaching experience at UBC broadened. In the context of this program, this meant I did not learn many new things to integrate into my own syllabi (for example): I did, however, have a clearer sense of why specific elements worked well. Regardless, I made some improvements.

Professor Pratt has proven a mentor with respect to aligning my aims as an educator with my practice. This has been in two specific areas: learning activities and assessment. For the former I acquired a clear sense of how to ensure student workload is reasonable with respect to student learning: less often is more, if the less is purposeful and well delivered. For the latter I learned the value of formative assessment and summative assessment, as well as ways to bring in activities that make summative assessment more authentic, where appropriate.  As well, Professor Pratt made a statement that has haunted me (in an affirming way) throughout my career in higher education: “surely the quality of what is learned is more important than the quality of how it’s taught.”

What did I learn about these things during this program? I encountered more literature that supported my overall approach. I was exposed to examples from others in the program with respect to course design, assessment and evaluation.

About John P Egan

Learning technology professional.
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