Saturday, July 30, 2016

Learning Theory: Scaffolding and Novice Misinformation

I recommend this article for a basis for thinking about the novice-expert split in college teaching.

Whether communication, psychology, economics, or physical sciences, our students come in with having been taught (a) too simplistically in high school about certain concepts (b) having bought into pop culture misinformation about advanced concepts, or (c) constructing their own mistaken knowlege, somehow.  We come to all learning with a set of knowledge and as stated here, if the set of knowledge is incorrect or has significant gaps, the instructor may miss the total point of teaching because they all aren't on a common footing.  I like to start even my basic public speaking class with a sense of where they understand the subject.

As someone who teaches adults in church, I see the same problem.  Biblical learning and theological knowledge can be very nuanced and complicated, so preachers have resorted to shorthand and those are embedded in our spiritual understandings.   Recognizing those, correcting those without being offensive and arrogant (very difficult to do even when we don't want to seem that way), and rebuilding a structure of understanding is a lot harder than realize. The problem is how much we "know" that isn't true.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Life Transitions

This is the last official week of my 19-month stint that was supposed to be 6 months in Academic Affairs at my college.  In the role of Assistant Vice President, I was stretched every day and loved every minute of it.  I will always consider it the high point of my career (and not just because of the salary increase).

My next role is as Chair of the Department of Communication, where I will supervise twelve other full-time faculty, about ten adjuncts, a bachelor's degree program, and two associate's.  These include core service classes in communication, theatre, music, foreign languages, and art.  We are also launching a new bachelor's program in communication.

The differences are great, and in some ways the new role will be a bigger challenge.  I also didn't know what I didn't know before; now I do know my gaps in knowledge and skills better.

I am working on a book about leadership principles as shown in the book of Daniel.  This will I believe help others and also prepare me for the job and for a class I will be teaching.