TEP logocritical thinking « Teaching Effectiveness Program

Serious Play: Reacting to the Past at the UO

Interested, Immersed, and Invigorated: A TEP Consultant Tries Nation-building I received my packet of materials for the Reacting to the Past (RTTP) “conference” at the beginning of a busy week in October. Initially I was a bit daunted by the size of my pre-conference packet–it was a good 168 pages, not including the table of contents […]

Getting Students to Think Critically

As part of my job here in the Teaching Effectiveness Program, I help facilitate the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club in partnership with the University of Oregon’s Science Literacy Program (SLP).  The SLP’s goal is to improve the general population’s science literacy by specifically addressing the topic in a variety of 100-level science courses.  In […]

Plagiarism: Strategies for Prevention

This is part two of a two-part article. In part one, I presented a brief overview of the problem. This week I discuss a few potential strategies for preventing plagiarism. As noted in part one, statements about academic misconduct on course syllabi are not very effective in preventing plagiarism.  In effect, they function like an End-User […]

Learning and Metacognition

A primary goal of university teaching is to help students learn how to engage with the content around which courses, degrees, and entire disciplines or fields of inquiry are organized. To “pass” a course, “earn” a degree, or “gain entry” into a community of scholars, students must demonstrate a certain level of mastery of knowledge […]

Thinking Beyond the ‘Two Cultures’

At a recent conference on student learning outcomes and assessment, I sat at a table with some professors of natural science who were lamenting the lack of appreciation for scientific knowledge in higher education and society at large.  As an example, one observed that at a cocktail party consisting of scholars, no one would be […]

What is a general education?

Recently, The  Chronicle of Higher Ed has been addressing the issue of general education. It’s a term we often use to describe the “balanced-diet”  of coursework— a little math, a little literature, some science, and a healthy dose of multicultural studies. And the purpose of this diet is to provide students with all the intellectual […]

The Birthday Clown on the Life Raft

Are we entertainers or educators? This post explores the increasing value of entertainment in our social discourse and how that might change our approach to teaching. Imagine this: In the aftermath of a terrible apocalyptic Cylon attack, the only people to survive are a ragtag band of college undergraduates. They’ve been given a “Life Raft” in […]


We tune a piano so that music sounds the same on each instrument. We know what to expect from each key and can play right away. Can you tune an institution of higher education the same way? Can we define certain reference points that would define a major the same way notes define a scale, […]

Bad Science, Great Opportunity

What if every terribly mistaken pop-culture  representation of our discipline  was actually a terrific learning opportunity? Lots of folks I know who are locked in the ivory tower bemoan the glamorous and adventurous portrayal of their  work in popular culture. What archaeologist carries a whip? What theoretical physicist wears a lab coat? How do you […]

Students See, Students Do

Lately, we have been thinking about how instructors at the university communicate to students what professionals in their disciplines do. That is, how does what we do in the classroom reflect what happens outside, in our professional lives. I remember when I was an undergraduate English Major, I thought that being a professor meant knowing […]