Donald Guthrie, Jeanette L. Hsieh Chair of Educational Leadership, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
The ON advisory committee has developed a brief summary of key pedagogical principles that guide its work when considering syllabi and other potential “helpful models.” This article introduces the document to the ON community.
If you are a faculty member, how do you complete the following:
I teach __________________ in order to ___________________ so that _____________________.
Some would say they teach students; others might say they teach subjects. Is there a difference? Some could say they teach in order to cover material so students get their money’s worth. Others could say they teach in order to earn a living so that their own bills get paid, or so that students are equipped for responsible Christian stewardship in various life callings.
Do these blanks await three correct, biblical answers? If you are feeling some level of disequilibrium as a result of this simple but revealing exercise, it is a good indication that you are learning something. You are most likely to learn most when you are invited to carefully examine your deepest assumptions. Faculty members enjoy the privilege of teaching even as they continue to discover the manifold wonders of God, deepen their own discipleship, and expand their pedagogical capacities.
Faculty members engaged in the Oikonomia Network have established courses that reflect our community’s topics, principles, and resources at a steady pace. Whether you currently offer a course or plan to in the future, a brief survey of best practices for teaching and learning could help aid course preparation, delivery, and evaluation. The ON advisory committee has created a summary of helpful pedagogical principles to assist our colleagues. Obviously, these principles are not all that can be said about teaching and learning, but they are presupposed in our evaluation and dissemination of “helpful models.” Culled from the pedagogical literature and reflective practice, they offer foundational reminders to the novice and master teacher.
The principles address:
- Biblical and theological foundations of a learning community
- Cultivating the Natural Critical Learning Environment discussed in Bain’s “What the Best College Teachers Do”
- Four motivational conditions that enhance adult learning
- Human development principles
- Bloom’s taxonomy levels
- Teaching objectives and desired outcomes
The principles are meant to be broad enough to be applied across disciplines and in cross-disciplinary environments. They could be employed with a checklist approach, to assist faculty members when planning a course or parts of courses. They could also be used to assess assignment components. Finally, we anticipate they will be helpful to evaluate the whole learning experience that the professor attempts to convey in the syllabus, including the content to be conveyed, the learning climate to be cultivated, and to what extent the course reflects the departmental and institutional mission.
Who do you teach? What do you teach? Toward what ends do you teach? What resources help you teach well? What are your hopes as you teach? What fruit do you pray the Lord will provide as a result of your teaching? We hope the ON will help you reflect on these questions and grow as an educator. What a privilege it is to teach!