Student Learning at the Center

Interesting article, “Rethinking Teaching” from the Oberlin Alumni Magazine about how teaching at Oberlin is changing. Overall, it sounds like they are moving away from the professor lecturing for hours to student created content and visual learning. Collaboration between departments is increasing, which in the end is a win-win.

Steven Volk, a History professor, is using a flipped classroom model. He has students watch a 30-minute lecture on video before class. Then, in-class time is spent on discussion. He seeks to create a community of learners.

We know that the way students learn best is to construct knowledge in their own heads.

– Steven Volk, History prof

Professor Volk seeks to teach students to think and work with material, to to memorize facts:

Volk doesn’t expect his students to recall all the details they’ve discussed in class — after all, they have smart phones if they need to know that Bolivia’s independence from Spain took hold in 1825. He approaches his classes with what he calls the “backward planning” hypothetical. “If I bump into one of my students 10 years after graduation, what do I want them to remember?” he says. “Not the details, but the concepts and the learning skills: how to investigate, read closely, analyze, interpret, and work with others.”

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