The National Teaching & Learning Forum

Cover image for Vol. 25 Issue 1

Online ISSN: 2166-3327

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James Rhem, Executive Editor

Editor James RhemHaving felt a passion for teaching for as long as he can remember, James Rhem, creator and executive editor of The National Teaching & Learning Forum, describes teaching and learning as sacramental acts. He was pursuing post-doctoral studies when the opportunity to have a wider influence on the teaching community opened and he began creating publications on teaching for higher education. After founding four newsletters, including the popular Teaching Professor, he founded The National Teaching & Learning Forum in 1990. Rhem is also active as a speaker, offering a humanities perspectives on teaching.

Editor's Note, Volume 25 Number 1

December 2015

James Rhem, Executive Editor:

The NTLF Residencies conducted over the last year -- month-long visits to campuses across the county -- have brought all kinds of new experience to the FORUM and new voices as well. The current issue looks back to the residency at Vanderbilt University last January. Within its reputation as a first-class, private research university, there’s also tremendous amount of interest and energy there for good teaching. The history department, for example, created its own course in the art and craft of teaching history for its graduate students. One of its creators, Marshall Eakins writes about the course in our lead feature.

In 1979 Vanderbilt combined with Peabody College one of the premier education schools in the country. We got to observe a seminar at Peabody conducted by Craig James on the social and emotional context of cognition, a seminar organized around the concept of ‘attributional charity’ that was perhaps the finest teaching we’ve ever seen.

The reports from Vanderbilt are only part of this issue of course. Ed Nuhfer’s DEVELOPER’S DIARY column this time takes up the dreaded use of numbers. Lot’s of people say they ‘don’t do math,’ but Nuhfer shows why we should and how we can. Why? To understand the reliability and validity of our tests and data for one reason. Efforts to teach well and improve teaching generally can’t all be just talk.

What is writing? For many students it’s just a labor, something they have to do, but don’t enjoy and often don’t see the point of. Neil Haave, a biology professor at the University of Alberta understands writing as thinking. In getting the point of and use of writing across to his students changes their writing experience and their experience of biology. He writes about how he came to this understanding in a lively essay of self discovery about how it’s significantly improved his teaching.

And finally, Marilla Svinicki continues her series of helpful pieces exploring the persistent challenge of ‘transfer’ -- teaching students so that they see how to apply what they’ve learned in one context in a new and unfamiliar (but appropriate one). It’s that ‘far transfer’ we’re teaching for, and Marilla offers some helpful suggestions on getting there.

Don’t miss out on the conversation in this issue of The National Teaching & Learning FORUM.

—James Rhem

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