This website is based on a 2016 study of faculty teaching primarily undergraduates at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. It used mixed methods to collect descriptive data on 36 different teaching activities in order to determine quantitative differences in frequency and durations of usage, and qualitative data regarding the perceived strengths and weaknesses of each activity.
The survey was completed by 200 of the ~400 faculty at Bucknell, who were asked to focus on one single course that they had taught at least two times. Descriptive data was collected on their rank, years of teaching experience, division, size of class, and composition of the students in that class. The study was intended to serve as a snapshot of teaching practices currently in use at Bucknell, and as such, allow other faculty to review that usage, and read how the practice was being used, as well as the reasons various practices were chosen. Though it contains persuasive material and strong opinions, it is intended to be descriptive only, which is why it is named “How We Teach,” and not “How we Should Teach.” Additional resources have been attached to the practices to permit further exploration, but it is not intended to be prescriptive or directive as to what practices or pedagogies should be prioritized, which is a purely personal and contextual decision.
Learner-Centered practices tend to have the student doing the bulk of the work, usually with a high degree of independence. As with all activities, there is a balance between the learner and the instructor, as in a homework assignment, for example, which may be developed and assigned by the instructor, but the actual work to complete the task is centered on the student’s effort to complete that assignment.
Teaching-Centered practices tend to involve the instructor doing the bulk of the work. As with all activities, there is a balance between the learner and the instructor, so with a lecture, for example, though students might be listening, taking notes, or asking questions, the actual work in preparing and delivering that lecture is centered on the instructor’s efforts.
Group-Centered practices are ones that put students in small groups to work on a task or project. That project can be small or large, short or lengthy, and may even involve the entire class as a group, but the effort to complete the task is centered on the group’s work.
Writing-Centered practices involve the use of writing as a means for the student to learn, share, critique, integrate, or discuss academic material. This can be done solo, in pairs or groups, or as a whole class, but engaging with the writing is central to the learning.
Problem-Centered practices tend to use real-world examples to connect students with the complexities of experience. Though this can range from word-problems in math, field trips, or working with a local non-profit, there is an authentic problem at the heart of these practices that students must wrestle with solving.
Technology-Centered practices tend to use tools or techniques that require technology. For example, flipping a class usually requires that students watch recorded lectures as homework prior to discussing and working on applications of that video in class. Without the tool of the video recording, it would not be in this category. The tool can also be low-tech, like a form or worksheet, and other examples include Clickers & Polling, Flipping Class, Culminating Projects, and Worksheets (P.O.G.I.L.).
Assessment-Centered practices is the traditional category of tests and quizzes, but also includes Just-in-time Teaching, Essential Questions, and Test-wrappers.
Inclusivity-Centered practices can both focus on creating a welcoming class environment by reducing traditional barriers, but also asks students to view material through the lenses they might have directly experienced such as race, gender, class, orientation, or cultural identity. Because it asks students to use their own experience to frame material, it is an important part of developing strong group dynamics in pedagogies such as Collaborative Learning.