The Research Digest, January 2016, Issue 51

The Research Digest highlights new research in learning and teaching. This month, we are highlighting recent work on the use of team teaching, co-teaching, and linked courses. This issue was developed in conjunction with January’s issue of Best Practices on Team Teaching. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, or have any suggestions for us, please send an email to To access past issues of the Research Digest, visit the LTO website.

New research on the use of open book exams:

Team Teaching a Cross-Disciplinary Honors Course: Preparation and Development
College Teaching, 2004
Collaborative teaching is used in many college and university programs to foster student enthusiasm and inquiry and to promote interdisciplinary learning. A literature review reveals benefits and pitfalls, but it lacks sufficient information for instructing team teachers in planning collaborative courses. In this article, we outline suggestions from a combination of sources, including informal written and verbal conversations with faculty members and our own experience. Collaborators for a team-taught course should talk to experienced others, review the literature, become acquainted with one another’s teaching style, open the channels for communication, and anticipate and plan for interjecting and turn-taking strategies, potential power dimensions, and sources of conflict.

Teaching Revolution: Issues in Interdisciplinary Education
College Teaching, 2003
One question of interdisciplinary education is how to encourage students to draw connections between disciplines and to engage in critical thinking. The authors developed a team-taught interdisciplinary course examining the history and literature of modern revolutions. The first time the course was given, students had difficulty making interdisciplinary connections and did not critically re-examine their assumptions. The authors restructured the course, re-thinking its emphasis, procedures, texts, and assignments, with substantial positive results. They also learned that teachers need to reassess their own ideology and teaching strategies to make interdisciplinary education effective.

Instructional Strategies to Accommodate a Team-Teaching Approach
Business Communication Quarterly, 2010
The concept of team teaching is attributed to William Alexander, known as the “father of the American middle school,” who delivered a presentation at a 1963 conference held at Cornell University. Alexander’s main idea was to establish teams of three to five middle school teachers who would be in charge of team teaching content to large groups of pupils, ranging from 75 to 150. Team teaching produces several pedagogical and intellectual benefits, including the development of dynamic, interactive learning environments; creation of a model for facilitating the teaching of critical thinking within or across disciplines; and establishment of new research ventures and partnerships among faculty. These and other benefits do not, however, emerge by themselves: Instructors must adapt instructional strategies and overall course planning to suit a highly collaborative approach. This article provides a description of instructional strategies to accommodate a team-teaching approach and gives recommendations for developing an effective team-teaching learning environment.

A Unique Sequence of Financial Accounting Courses Featuring Team Teaching, Linked Courses, Challenging Assignments, and Instruments for Evaluation and Assessment
College Teaching Methods & Styles Journal, 2008
The Department of Accounting at California State University Northridge (CSUN) has developed a unique sequence of courses designed to ensure that accounting students are trained not only in technical accounting, but also acquire critical thinking, research and communication skills. The courses have proven effective and have embedded assessment measures that are used to evaluate and document student progress. The assessment measures also provide feedback to faculty and have led to numerous improvements over time. The Intermediate Accounting Sequence begins with a one (semester) unit bridge course that reviews the lower-division accounting material, introduces intermediate accounting concepts, and provides a base measure of students’ communication skills through a writing assignment. The next three-unit intermediate accounting course (ACCT351) is linked with a two-unit accounting communication course (351COM). These linked courses share unstructured case assignments written by the accounting faculty that require students to identify the accounting issue(s), research the authoritative literature in GAAP, and write a professional one-page document for each case that demonstrates critical thinking and appropriate documentation. The structure of the linked courses is based on team work, and has the indirect benefit of promoting collegiality among faculty and fostering a culture of critical thinking throughout the accounting program. The skills acquired in 351/351COM are reinforced in subsequent courses through the use of similar assignments and evaluation and assessment.

Collaboration as a Form of Professional Development: Improving Learning for Faculty and Students
College Teaching, 2013
One form of professional development available to faculty is the opportunity to co-teach. Studies of team teaching report increased communication between teachers and students and improved retention and achievement. This article describes a multiyear collaboration between two faculty members that began with a training relationship and expanded into co-teaching. From this experience, the authors widened their knowledge of resources, added to their teaching repertoire, and created new projects and assignments. The co-teaching relationship led to examination of processes and outcomes of their teaching and co-writing. Over time, this professional experience has grown into an exchange of roles and responsibilities. Although this collaboration did not begin as a scholarship endeavor, it has become a long-lasting one built on trust and mutual interest.

Conflict Resolution in Team Teaching: A Case Study in Interdisciplinary Teaching
College Teaching, 2008
The authors discuss the challenges of creating an integrated, interdisciplinary team-taught course. This case study focuses on conflict arising from interdependency, when interdisciplinary teams determine course content and negotiate identity, relationship, and process issues. Although no formulaic solutions can resolve such conflicts, the study makes suggestions that can help achieve integration and collaboration when disciplines join forces.

Designing Interdisciplinary Science/Humanities Courses: Challenges and Solutions
College Teaching, 2013
Interdisciplinary teaching requires substantial effort to integrate the disciplines, especially when a wide interdisciplinary gap exists, such as when a course bridges the sciences and humanities. Creating successful science/humanities courses requires more than good intentions; it demands awareness of the challenges that faculty encounter in such courses, along with specific strategies to meet these challenges. We compile findings from theories, case studies, and instructional guides in the interdisciplinary literature, along with faculty interviews and our own teaching experience, to present seven main challenges and suggested strategies for each.

Interdisciplinary Education and Critical Thinking in Religion and History: The Delivery of Two “Content-Based” Linked Courses
Journal of Effective Teaching, 2007
Primary sources in religion and history enable first year university students to connect “content-based” linked courses in the core curriculum. Fifty-four first year university students in three separate pairs of courses worked in teams to present oral critical reports on texts related to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Modern Era: themes intersecting religion and history. Critical thinking skills equipped students to address content while team collaboration enabled both textual comprehension and formation of academic community. Both sets of skills informed related writing assignments. The overall learning experience facilitated development of intellectual connections between the two courses (a primary goal of linked courses). Greater clarity in assignments and more time in the linked course format would enhance the learning experience.

Team teaching “gender perspectives”: a reflection on feminist pedagogy in the interdisciplinary classroom
Feminist Teacher, 2013
This paper explores the potential of collaborative interdisciplinary teaching as a mechanism for advancing feminist pedagogies. The authors, individually and collectively, engage in feminist academic work (e.g., scholarship and teaching) that challenges traditional academic expectations in our disciplines and at our institution. We do this in spite of our understanding that power relations within the academy and in traditional academic disciplines tend to marginalize methodologies that promote emancipatory and progressive ideas (see Katuna). Furthermore, we embrace academic feminism, particularly in the classroom, as having interdisciplinary potential in its ability to draw from multiple fields of thought simultaneously to help students develop critical approaches that ultimately contribute to equity and equality, within and beyond the academy.

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One Response to The Research Digest, January 2016, Issue 51

  1. David Zakus says:

    HI, I am planning to develop a course with three university sites on the topic of global health and global citizenship.
    I would love to meet with someone expert in education to discuss this.

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