I just got my dream job as a university lecturer – now what?
DEVELOP YOUR OWN ASSIGNMENTS
When I started teaching at my current university I was struggling to fit in. I was doing my best to recreate my own university experience, but I was in a very different environment.
I teach liberal education to first and second year students. My students generally have no idea why they should be studying philosophy or poetry or literature when their Major is in Business or Accounting. They understand it is supposed to make their education “well rounded” but honestly most of them don’t really understand how or why.
Not only was I asking students to read “old books written by white men,” my reading requirements were daunting and so were my assignments. They were asked to read too many pages of philosophy and write three essays and two exams. It was a disaster! Not only was I drowning in marking, my students complained about the amount of reading and writing they had to do. After one terrible semester, I realized this model was not sustainable nor desirable.
My courses are interdisciplinary and my expertise is in ancient political philosophy, so while philosophy is at the core, I also branch out into literature, film, and various other academic branches. The students sign up for foundational courses but do not sign up for a particular lecturer nor subject. Many of them could not write an eight page essay comparing the three FORMS of the good in Plato’s Republic to Maus I and II.
I began researching educational models and started to create assignments that focused on the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. You will find a very clear explanation on why you should use these principles in your classroom here: Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching
I spent several years trying various types of assignments and finally had success with my Dilemma One Sheets. You will find my blog post on Dilemma One Sheets here:
I also created my own version of note-taking – Visual and Annotation, engaged in Socratic Seminars, and have my students create Posters and Infographics.
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