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Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 12 months ago

Light, Greg and Roy Cox. Learning & Teaching in Higher Education: The Reflective Professional. London: Paul Chapman, 2001.


The authors address (p. 3) the influence of a new perception of education – that of a system to pursue excellence, which term is “imported from industry” (ibid.); they define excellence as “a measure of how the university performs its social role, not a measure of the role itself” (ib.). Thus, we see how the university becomes accountable and is held to perform at a certain level… that is, to produce a certain grade or quality of results. The professor, then, is expected to change in his or her 1) conception of his or her role, and 2) the execution of that role. Of this, the authors remark that “there is a growing focus on the development of abilities that are more akin to the modern entrepreneur than the traditional academic” (p. 5), and presumably the same goes for academic administrators as well. The book examines, then, the professor as professional, and how he or she ought to view the ‘language’ of learning and teaching (p. 13).


Part 1 of the book (ch. 2-4) is the most theoretical, dealing with the frameworks which underlie this ‘language’ and what it means ‘for’ and ‘to’ the professional. Part 2 is concerned with the activities which such professionals undertake – namely designing courses, lecturing (large groups), facilitating (small groups), supervising/advising, innovating (e.g. using technology), assessment, and (self) evaluation. Finally, a useful batch of appendices are included at the end of the book; these contain checklists, notes, and other useful items.


Most notable is ch. 4, “A Critical Matrix of Learning and Teaching.” This chapter is built around a diagram of “learning gaps” (p. 47) which illustrates a kind of progression in the student’s experience: recall, understanding, ability, wanting to, doing, and changing. A decent discussion of these gaps follows their introduction.


Finally, ch. 12 (entitled “Realizing the Reflective Professional”) provides suggestions on integrating practice – i.e. teaching in a professional manner, as I understand it – with research.


Overall, this book’s second part seems more useful than the first – especially if one is reading to supplement a strategy rather than to adopt a whole new one. Nevertheless, those interested in educational theory may derive equal utility from both parts of the book.


This book seems to address itself most to those interested in the organizational structure that is best used in the classroom. It helps to make people aware of the important role played by leadership and, more importantly, so to manage one's class so that it doesn't run away from oneself. Thus, most emphasis is placed on control and organization, and the best ways that a teacher can achieve this important end without being too overbearing of the students.


Added by Ed DuBois - 4/7/2008

Edited by Alex Kochkin (12/11/08).

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