Proposal Title

Teaching ‘Expert’ Thinking to ‘Novice’ Students in Introductory Courses

Co-Authors

None

Track

Research Project / Assessment of Student Learning

Proposal Abstract

Introductory courses offer a special teaching challenge. Instructors must simultaneously be able to provide majors with the foundation of theory and content needed for advanced coursework while making this material accessible to non-majors of varying disciplinary backgrounds. Perhaps more significant than this divide between majors and non-majors, however, is the disjunction between the expert-level perspective of the instructor and the novice-level perspective of the students: What seems self-evident to the former is often unclear to the latter. Based on systematic research-in-progress in a first-year sociology course, this talk will illustrate how the work of Herb Simon, Barbara Walvoord and others on the careful design and scaffolding of assignments can be applied to help bridge this gap with benefits to both students and instructors. That is, students develop both content mastery and discipline-specific habits of mind, while the work they produce allows instructors to make finer distinctions in grading and learning assessment. After assessing a before-and-after assignment prompt using principles from Gerald Graff’s expert/novice theory, attendees will be invited to consider the following question in the context of their respective disciplines: “How might I revise a key assignment or sequence to more clearly ask for what I want?”

Session Format

Presentation Session

Location

Room 212

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Apr 1st, 12:00 PM Apr 1st, 12:45 PM

Teaching ‘Expert’ Thinking to ‘Novice’ Students in Introductory Courses

Room 212

Introductory courses offer a special teaching challenge. Instructors must simultaneously be able to provide majors with the foundation of theory and content needed for advanced coursework while making this material accessible to non-majors of varying disciplinary backgrounds. Perhaps more significant than this divide between majors and non-majors, however, is the disjunction between the expert-level perspective of the instructor and the novice-level perspective of the students: What seems self-evident to the former is often unclear to the latter. Based on systematic research-in-progress in a first-year sociology course, this talk will illustrate how the work of Herb Simon, Barbara Walvoord and others on the careful design and scaffolding of assignments can be applied to help bridge this gap with benefits to both students and instructors. That is, students develop both content mastery and discipline-specific habits of mind, while the work they produce allows instructors to make finer distinctions in grading and learning assessment. After assessing a before-and-after assignment prompt using principles from Gerald Graff’s expert/novice theory, attendees will be invited to consider the following question in the context of their respective disciplines: “How might I revise a key assignment or sequence to more clearly ask for what I want?”