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Guest Speaker Lendol Calder

Beyond Coverage:
Signature Pedagogies for the Introductory Course

A History Case Study

Video of Lendol Calder's workshopstudents

The most difficult challenge facing university instructors today is how to teach the introductory course. Teachers do their best to cover everything that is important, but students in intro courses often seem bored and disengaged. When a subject is being covered, what gets covered up? — disciplinary thinking, the most interesting and useful thing to learn about a field of study.

All good teachers want students to adopt the crucial habits of mind used by practitioners of a discipline to create inquiries, construct knowledge, and evaluate arguments. But even when "critical thinking" is a goal on the syllabus, even when professors model disciplinary thinking in their lectures, we can still be unaware of how generic approaches to teaching that emphasize coverage of material can undermine our best intentions and promote misconceptions about the nature of our discipline.  

Lendol Calder (historian, Carnegie Scholar, and 2010 IL Professor of the Year) describes his efforts to create and assess a signature pedagogy for introductory history courses. His story is of interest teachers of all introductory courses because all face the same challenge: how to prepare students to think and act in the world.

Calder visited UW-Eau Claire campus on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.
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