Monday, November 02, 2009

Teaching What You Don't Know

Therese Huston, Teaching What You Don’t Know (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009) is a useful book on teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level. Huston, holding a doctorate in cognitive psychology and now on the faculty of Seattle University, addresses a generally neglected aspect of being a faculty member. “Teaching what you don’t know is an increasingly common reality for a majority of academics,” she writes. “The only instructors who may be exempt from the pressure to teach beyond their area of expertise are senior tenured faculty members at research universities and some part-time adjunct faculty” (p. 9). It is certainly not a reality that I am familiar with. In presenting advice on how to prepare for such teaching, Huston provides lots of useful advice about teaching strategies, interacting with students (especially the differences in attitudes and aims between faculty and students), and the assessment of teaching.

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