A “Best of” List that Celebrates the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning

It’s that time of the year when everybody is doing their “Best of 2014” lists, and I have one of my own that I’ve been wanting to do for some time now.

It will not come as a surprise to anyone that in order to prepare The Teaching Professor newsletter each month and this blog every week, I read a lot of pedagogical literature. But perhaps you would be surprised to know there are close to 100 pedagogical periodicals, at least that’s how many I am aware of at this point. When writing my book, Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning, I did my best to find them all and when the book was finished I was quite confident I had. However, the book was out less than a week before I was getting notes about journals I had missed and I’m still discovering new ones. Most of these journals are discipline-based, but there’s a significant number of cross-disciplinary publications as well.

For good reasons, work on teaching and learning resides within the disciplines. That’s where promotion and tenure decisions are made and there are aspects of teaching and learning unique to whatever content is being taught. I don’t believe there are as many unique aspects as some faculty think there are, but that’s another discussion. Many teaching and learning issues do transcend disciplines, and we have much to learn from and with each other. (I know, that’s a line I write often).

So, based on my pedagogical reading throughout 2014, I’ve identified eight top articles, listed below in alphabetical order. Here’s my criteria, with some articles illustrating a couple of the benchmarks and others showcasing multiple.

In order to make the list, the article is:

  • about an innovative instructional approach that addresses a common learning need and is proven to work, either documented by research or supported by related research.
  • a well-designed study on a topic we don’t know a lot about, or a review of research or literature on a topic where our knowledge is much deeper. The review integrates what is known in ways useful to practitioners.
  • a well-written exploration of a familiar topic that offers new insights.
  • a provocative essay that challenges current thinking on a topic.
  • a creative, intellectually rigorous example of scholarly work on teaching and learning.
  • relevant and widely applicable, something almost any teacher will find interesting and useful.

Top pedagogical journal articles

Boud, D., Lawson, R., and Thompson, D. G. (2013). Does student engagement in self-assessment calibrate their judgment over time? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38 (8), 941-956.
Why read it: Despite its importance, self-assessment is not a skill that’s taught explicitly in most curricular programs. What more can we be doing?

Burgess-Proctor, A., Cassano, G., Condron, D. J., Lyons, H. A., and Sanders, G. (2014). A collective effort to improve sociology students’ writing skills. Teaching Sociology, 42 (2), 130-139.
Why read it: Five faculty members decide they can do more to improve student writing collectively than they can individually.

Burkholder, P., (2014). A content means to a critical thinking end: Group quizzing in history survey. The History Teacher, 47 (4), 551-578.
Why read it: Offers a quizzing strategy with substantial impact for learning and raises questions about content that we aren’t asking often enough.

Carmichael, A. M. and Krueger, L. E. (2014). An examination of factors and attitudes that influence reporting fraudulent claims in an academic environment. Active Learning in Higher Education, 15 (2), 173-185.
Why read it: Prepare to be stunned by how easily and readily students reported making up excuses.

Corrigan, H. and Craciun, G. (2013). Asking the right questions: Using Student-Written Exams as an innovative approach to learning and evaluation. Marketing Education Review, 23 (1), 31-35.
Why read it: Students write their own exams using a well-designed approach that grades their questions and answers.

Offerdahl, E. G., and Montplaisir, L., (2014). Student-generated reading questions: Diagnosing student thinking with diverse formative assessments. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 42 (1), 29-38.
Why read it: Want your students doing the reading and asking better questions? Here’s an approach that accomplishes both.

Rublee, M. R. (2014). Rubrics in the political science classroom: Packing a serious analytical punch. PS, Political Science and Politics, 47 (1), 199-203.
Why read it: Rubrics can do so much more than expedite grading. You don’t have to teach political science to benefit from this article.

Seidel, S. B. and Tanner, K. D. (2013). “What if students revolt?”—Considering student resistance: origins, options and opportunities for investigation. Cell Biology Education—Life Sciences Education, 12 (Winter), 586-595.
Why read it: Find here a veritable cache of wisdom on dealing with student resistance.

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