Effective Communication with Colleagues, the Public, Students and Users

I chose the tile of this post as a replacement for: Synthesis of the Value and Benefits of SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning)Experienced by the Contributors. I know, it’s hard to get past the title but if you do, Rick Reis advises:

The posting below is Chapter 20 of the book, Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in Mathematics. It has implications well beyond the teaching of mathematics and represents the synthesis of the editors, Jacqueline Dewar and Curtis Bennett of Loyola Marymount University, of the contributing authors’ perceptions of the value of SoTL. In it, they reinterpret Shulman’s (1999) “taxonomy of pedago-pathology” consisting of amnesia, fantasia, and inertia, which he had used to describe pitfalls of student learning, to show how the same 3 labels can describe pathologies of teaching, and then discuss how SoTL can operate as an antidote for these. Dewar, J., & Bennett, C. (Eds.). (2015). Doing the scholarship of teaching and learning in mathematics. Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America. Copyright © 2015. Mathematical Association of America. (http://www.maa.org/publications/ebooks/doing-the-scholarship-of-teaching-and-learning-in-mathematics). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

The triple, “amnesia, fantasia, and inertia” originally were references to:

  • Amnesia – inability of students to remember what they have learned
  • Fantasia – remembering of incorrect information by students
  • Inertia – student’s inability to apply what they have learned

The essays turn the tables on professors who teach classes where:

  • Amnesia – inability of a professor to remember what worked or what didn’t in prior courses
  • Fantasia – relying on assumptions about students rather than exploring why they haven’t mastered material
  • Inertia – teaching classes the same way, even though prior students failed to master the materials

I can see that triple, “amnesia, fantasia, and inertia” in the treatment of users:

  • Amnesia – inability to remember what has worked in the past for users
  • Fantasia – no user testing of UI and/or documentation, “just not trying hard enough.”
  • Inertia – writing poor or no documentation, “this time will be different”

I suppose the inertia part is also a reference to how we all take every opportunity to be lazy if at all possible.

I am sure the techniques for SoTL aren’t directly transferable to CS in academia or in practice but every nudge in a better direction helps.

The MAA page offers this description:

The four chapters in Part I provide background on this form of scholarship and specific instructions for undertaking a SoTL investigation in mathematics. Part II contains fifteen examples of SoTL projects in mathematics from fourteen different institutions, both public and private, spanning the spectrum of higher educational institutions from community colleges to research universities. These chapters “reveal the process of doing SoTL” by illustrating many of the concepts, issues, methods and procedures discussed in Part I. An Editors’ Commentary opens each contributed chapter to highlight one or more aspects of the process of doing SoTL revealed within. Toward the end of each chapter the contributing authors describe the benefits that accrued to them and their careers from participating in SoTL.

In PDF it is only $23.00 and appears to be worth every penny of it.

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