Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education


Date of this Version



Essays on Teaching Excellence Toward the Best in the Academy (2010-2011) 22(3)


Copyright 2011, John Girash. Used by permission


When it comes to teaching, faculty at a research-intensive institution can be very much like our students in relation to their studies: very smart people whose primary interests lie elsewhere or, at least, whose expertise is not in this area. And we hear over and over again the common wisdom that faculty want research-based ideas on teaching. This implies that we can treat the teaching of teachers about research-supported aspects of learning in ways analogous to teaching students about other academic topics.

In introducing research-based ideas into the pedagogical discussion, it can be tough to find a balance between concepts drawn directly from “hard research” vs. ideas that are so digested for practitioners’ use that the underlying research is completely obscured. If you rely too heavily on the former, the content becomes so specific and jargon-filled as to be impenetrable, while at the other extreme, you can end up with just another set of random-seeming “teaching tips” rather than a coherent and wellsupported conceptual framework. And, surely, it is not surprising that having a coherent, comprehensible framework of ideas turns out to be of central importance for learning.