|Rethinking the Classroom|
Two years ago, Michael Brown approached the podium in Kane Hall to teach an introductory geography course. He stared out at a sea of faces—about 500 of them—and wondered how he would hold their attention for ten weeks.
Things went downhill from there.
“It was just a nightmare,” recalls Brown, assistant professor of geography, who had recently arrived at the UW. “My smaller classes were going great, but the lecture course . . . it was awful. At the end of the quarter, students rated me in the bottom one percent of all faculty. I could only go up.”
When Brown was assigned to teach the course again two quarters later, he knew he had to do something to improve the course and his attitude. He contacted colleagues and campus resources for guidance and returned autumn quarter with a substantially revised course. It paid off.
"Not only were my student evaluations very high this time, but I enjoyed teaching the class,” says Brown. “The students learned more, and so did I.”
Brown’s successful efforts to improve his lecture course are inspirational but not unique. Across the College, many faculty struggle with the questions, “Can I improve my teaching? Is there a better way for students to learn this material?” Sometimes the changes they make are subtle and incremental. Other times they rebuild a course from the ground up. Either way, the goal is to help students learn more effectively.
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Brown: Ditching the Textbook
McGovern: Getting to Know Your Audience
Hille: A Natural Evolution
Coutu: Shrinking the Class with Technology
Found His Own Voice--and a Talent for Teaching
the Curriculum to Reflect Diversity