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UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 8 | Aug. 3, 2006

Problems to Explore, Not to Ignore

By Gary Poole

Gary PooleOver the next five years, innovations in teaching will be based less on educated guesses and more on research-based evidence. An instructor may introduce these new ideas to students with phrases like, “Over the last two years in this course, we have collected data that has convinced us of the benefits of having you sit in teams and spend part of every class solving a problem related to that day’s topic.”

The instructor will then explain the study and present the data in a form that students can grasp and discuss. This will become common enough that students in this class might expect the research on learning to continue in their class. They will complete consent forms as a matter of course and may well be interested in becoming partners in research that investigates their learning.

This research has already become an integral part of the teaching and learning landscape in higher education. At UBC, multidisciplinary teams from Engineering, Biology, Political Science, Education, and elsewhere have launched these investigations into their own teaching and their students’ learning. In the future, the move toward more evidence-based innovation will draw more faculty members to new pedagogy.

More of us will discuss research problems in teaching and learning the way we discuss problems we are tackling in our discipline-based research. As Georgetown English professor Randy Bass envisions, a “problem in teaching” will be something compelling to explore, not something troublesome to ignore.

Gary Poole is Director of UBC’s Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth, President of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and a member of the council of the International Consortium for Educational Development.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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