Grad Class Suggestions

I will be teaching a grad class in the fall. This CHE fora post from seniorscholar seemed particularly useful:

As much as possible, make students do all the work — I don’t mean “do all the work you assign” but “do all the work to provide the information, the questions, the references, and the directions for the class session.” I do a lot of prep during the summer before the fall grad class (which, for me, alternates by years: one year a master’s level literature class and the next year a doctoral level research methods and practices class which I expect to produce the basis for an article or conference presentation by each student by the end of the semester).

So, in the course you mention, I might on the first day of class find out what they know, find out what they intend to do with their graduate education, give them a quick overview, and hand out an individual assignment for each student for each of the next two sessions. Next session: have each of them read a separate scholarly article which you know (but they don’t) draws on one of the theorists they’ll be studying. Give them an outline for “presenting” the information in the article. Have each one present that information (I’m assuming a 2-3 hour seminar, which is our graduate routine: if the classes are shorter, this can take two or three classes) and answer the questions asked by others in the class and by you. For the following week, have each student read whatever work (theory or text) was central in last week’s article and reassess how the writer used it in a short essay to read aloud, and, again, answer questions from classmates and from you.

In other words, don’t “lecture” on anything: provide outlines, provide structures, provide questions; and make sure that each student has some definite task to do to prepare for each class, and not a task that any other student has done, so that each student is forced to take possession of one part of the teaching. (If the class is bigger than a seminar, it could be two students for each part.) And vary the tasks: sometimes reading, sometimes generating a bibliography, sometimes finding out information in library databases or reference sources. The goal is to not only teach the “texts” and the “theories” but to teach them “how to become an expert” on one piece of the material — and it is that latter skill that is the important skill for graduate students to cultivate, rather than “learning all about” a set of texts and theories.”

One thought on “Grad Class Suggestions”

  1. Interesting piece. I now feel a bit short changed in my graduate education, as I am still struggling with the idea of becoming an expert– of an article, text, theory. Thank you for the post, and the ideas…

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