book cover of What Teaching Looks Like
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ISBN: 978-1-951414-07-8

June 2022

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ISBN: 978-1-951414-06-1

July 2022

Over the past several decades, postsecondary educators (and those who research them) have traced the evolution from teacher-centered to student-centered perspectives. Yet, it remains rare to experience higher education classrooms through the perspectives of students. In this chapter, readers are invited into an experience of close reading classrooms through images that upend preconceived notions about emotions in learning, the roles of instructors and students, and what it’s like at the back of the class. As the camera fades into the background, images of students immersed in their experience (and sometimes, distant or removed from it) may surprise educators with what it’s really like to be studying today and support an important argument for representing the full range of student experiences in discourse about higher education.

Discussion Questions

Questions for faculty and teaching assistants

  • How familiar or unfamiliar to you are the sorts of images in this chapter showing learner-centered teaching in action? Why do you think that is the case?
  • What do you notice about the actions, gestures, locations, roles, and work of faculty in the learner-centered classes and interactions shown in this chapter? What do you notice about the students in those same images?
  • If someone were to take photographs of your classes, do you think they would show a more teacher-centered environment, a more learner-centered environment, an environment based on partnership, or a mixture? How would you be able to tell?
  • What kinds of emotions do you observe in the photographs in this chapter? How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with seeing those emotions in the images? In your classes? Why might that be the case?

Questions for instructional, academic, and faculty developers

  • How might authentic photographs of classroom instruction help instructors change their own instructional paradigms toward more learner-centered and/or partnership-based approaches?
  • When and how have you discussed the role of emotion in classes with faculty or future faculty? With students? How might photographs support such discussions?
  • As an educational developer focusing on improving teaching and learning, what reactions, emotions, and thoughts arise when you view the images in this chapter showing views from the back of and within large classes? How do you think these views compare with experiences students and faculty have in large classes at your institution?

Questions for other staff and administrators

  • Do your institutional images tend to represent learner-centered or teacher-centered instruction more often? Why do you think that is the case, and are there differences depending on the context?
  • Are there examples of institutional images in your context that show emotions that are not clearly happy or celebratory? What role do expressions of absorption, intensity, and challenge play in your institution’s values and representations?
  • What questions do these and other images raise about what’s beyond the frame? About larger, systemic issues faced by students and faculty in higher education settings?