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Busting a myth about Berkeley’s Distinguished Teachers

Stephen Tollefson, former lecturer, College Writing Programs | April 22, 2010

How can we possibly compare a small humanities seminar with a large physics lecture, or an architecture studio?  The methods seem to be just too different, the way the content must be conveyed seems too dissimilar. For twenty five years, I’ve watched the Berkeley Academic Senate Committee on Teaching ask these questions as they begin … Continue reading »

Teaching well requires connecting the understanding of an expert back to the conceptual state of a beginner

Dan Klein, professor of computer science |

When I teach, I think a lot about the student perspective.  What is the course experience like for them?  How are they connecting to the material?  Why are they excited about it in the first place? Thinking through the student point of view helps me to teach in more effective ways. Instructors must have expert command … Continue reading »

Happy as a 12-year-old kid with his first box of chalk and a new blackboard, teaching his friends

Juan Pestana-Nascimento, professor of civil and environmental engineering |

Shortly after the start of high school, I found myself helping my closest friends with many difficult classes and homework assignments.  My “study group” quickly grew and my mother decided to get me a big blackboard and my first box of white chalk. As a 12 year old, I became very popular (although only before … Continue reading »

Giving the claim that you disagree with a chance to succeed

Line Mikkelsen, associate professor of linguistics |

My teaching philosophy has emerged as an outcome of managing tensions that present themselves in teaching in general and teaching linguistics in particular. The first tension is between teaching students how to do linguistics (data gathering, problem solving, and theory building) and teaching them about the field of linguistics through its literature, development, and major … Continue reading »

Great teaching can happen in many different ways…

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | April 21, 2010

but I believe it always shares a few features: great teachers are concerned with whether students are learning, and less with how well they themselves are teaching. great teachers understand that it is better to help students master a well-selected set of concepts than to let them flounder in a sea of content. great teachers … Continue reading »

Is a teaching award the academic kiss of death?

David Patterson, professor of computer science |

The lore at some research universities is that teaching is held in such low regard that getting a teaching award is like getting a kiss from Don Corleone in The Godfather; both lead to short, unsuccessful careers.* The winners of Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award disprove that myth. For example, Berkeley lists a score of national … Continue reading »