The truth about teaching at Ryerson

A post from the Director of the LTO, Maureen Reed:

We often hear how faculty members tend to rely on the lecture as their main vehicle for giving content to students.  I am sure the lecture is alive and well at Ryerson, but I am less sure that when faculty say they lecture that they are only lecturing.  During my time at the LTO, I have had the opportunity to visit many classes, where I have been told by the faculty member that I will be visiting a lecture.  In truth, what I saw was much more than a lecture.  Of course, part of it was lecture, where the faculty member combined PowerPoint and speaking as a vehicle for communication, but there were almost always many add-ons.

These add-ons are instances of active learning, that is, activities that require students to participate.  Some are applied in nature such as small cases, role playing, and solving real life problems.  Some are discussion based such as debates, group problems sessions, and discussions of news articles.  Some techniques are less about active learning and more about applied learning such as antidotes and stories.  Many faculty members quiz their students in informal ways, use clickers, or ask them what they know about a topic before teaching it.

My point is that faculty members do a lot to make their classes interesting and fun.  I do know from our newest colleagues that sometimes faculty members feel under confident in doing things other than lecturing.  It is risky, I agree.  However, my experience is that the risk is well worth it.  When we teach in novel ways and include lots of participation, students do learn and enjoy that learning process.  It is a great way of communicating to the students your enthusiasm for your classes.  If you would like to learn about novel ways to capture your student’s attention, we can help at the LTO.  We have lots or resources to help you get started.  Below are links to our resources in teaching and to some of our handouts that could help you find some methods that are known to work and to be a hit with students.

Resources for teaching

Our Teaching Tips handouts

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