Many graduate programs in philosophy provide funding for their students in exchange for their labor as teaching assistants (TAs). The job of a TA varies across institutions and courses, but typically involves grading assignments, running weekly discussion sections of a larger course, and providing guidance to students. (more…)
Philosophy departments face increasing pressure to demonstrate their value to their universities. One type of response is to attempt to increase enrollment in philosophy courses. There are various ways to do this. One way is to offer courses that apply philosophy to matters of personal or social concern. The result is a familiar variety of courses in applied ethics,..
Bob Fischer is an assistant professor of philosophy at Texas State University. In a brief conversation over the summer, he shared with me an observation about a problem teaching philosophy to college students and I thought, “no, that can’t be correct.” But he was right, and he was doing something about it. In the following guest post, he explains the problem and how..
What if I told you there was an easy, scientifically-proven, five-minute method for improving your teaching? Just five-minutes, and your teaching ratings go up. No, I’m not talking about giving your students candy when you have them fill out the course evaluation forms. I’m talking about an actual improvement in learning outcomes, based on real science. How much wou..
Do you use games as a teaching tool in your philosophy course? And if so, which games, and to teach what? The questions were prompted by a friend drawing attention to “The Hobbes Game” by John Immerwahr (in the Fall 1976 issue of Teaching Philosophy). He lays out the game in the first few pages of the article, reproduced below. See the full article for a discus..
Many universities start their fall semesters around now, so it’s a good a time—though not as good a time as last week—to ask: “what do you like to do on your first day of philosophy class?” (more…)
Questions about right and wrong action, what kinds of things are of value, and what kinds of persons we should be—i.e., ethics—arise in nearly every area of scholarly inquiry. This provides opportunities for philosophy departments to play a role at their universities outside their traditional courses. (more…)
A student in the University of London’s distance undergraduate international program who is majoring in philosophy is seeking advice on how to get help with her studies. She writes: (more…)
Landon Hedrick is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska who is also a high school philosophy teacher at Vanguard Classical School in Colorado. He is looking for some help meeting the specific challenges of designing a logic and critical thinking course in which the materials “are all appropriate for the audience, both in terms of content and in terms of ..
Newflash: teaching students logic improves their logical reasoning skills—at least according to some new research. You may be thinking, “duh,” but that would be a mistake. After all, “teach” isn’t a success term. And as it turns out, “there is little evidence that studying logic itself improves one’s logical thinking.” (more…)
A Daily Nous reader sends in a question concerning classroom discussions of recent events and the controversial and sensitive subjects they involve: (more…)
It may make sense to have a summer course that, say, takes students to France to improve their French. Or one that brings them to Japan to study Japanese agricultural methods. Or a marine ecology course that takes place on a boat cruising through the Caribbean. Sometimes “destination” courses, or other courses that involve travel to or study in a specific part of th..
A reader has asked me to solicit information about philosophy summer programs for high school students. If you know of any or involved in any, please do list them in the comments. If you have links to the programs’ sites, please include them. Thank you!
The following is a guest post* by David W. Concepción, professor of philosophy at Ball State University, which summarizes some of the findings presented in “The State of Teacher Training in Philosophy” (Teaching Philosophy 2016), a systematic look at the training in teaching graduate students in philosophy get (alternative link). In the paper, authors Concepción, Me..
Professors, you were not normal. You weren’t normal back when you were an undergraduate, and you aren’t normal now. Even back then, you cared about stuff (yes I’ll say “stuff”) that most of your fellow students didn’t even ever think about, and now that you’ve spent so much time studying that stuff, writing about that stuff, credentializing yourself in that stuff, a..
Philosophers, have you ever taught a course about philosophy as a way of life? Stephen R. Grimm, professor of philosophy at Fordham University, has. During the course his students have to select one of the ways of life covered in the course, spend three days living it, and then create video reflections of the experience. It would be great to hear from others who’ve ..
“Perhaps all professional philosophers have wrestled with the problem of how to cover all the important things in the limited time of a single course.” But what are the important things? And who are the important figures?
In a series of columns at the Chronicle of Higher Education, James M. Lang, a professor of English at Assumption College, has been suggesting small changes to teaching that, he argues, could make a big difference in student learning. Among the suggestions:
- Arrive early to have a little small talk with individual students (different ones each tim..
A philosopher on the job market writes in with a question about course size:
A school that may offer me a tenure line position has a 65 student cap for intro courses, and I would be doing all the work (no grad program, no student graders, etc.). It is likely that I would have have to teach 2 such courses at once during either Fall or Spring, in addition to handli..
The Economist analysed 1,289,407 RateMyProfessor.com reviews of 1,066 professors and lecturers in New York and has reported on some of its findings. Among them is the nugget that instructors of philosophy, compared with other disciplines, are most often described as “brilliant” by their students. According to the article, “an adoring student termed her teacher ‘a ph..
Colleen Cressman (MIT) draws our attention to the Open Syllabus Project. The project is a work in progress aimed at creating “the first large-scale online database of university course syllabi as a platform for the development of new research, teaching, and administrative tools.” It has a collection of over a million syllabi culled from the internet and other source..
The editors of the Blog of the American Philosophical Association have begun a new series to help members of the profession with questions, challenges, and problems, about teaching philosophy. Jennifer Morton (CUNY) writes:
The Teaching Workshop is a new, regular feature on the Blog of the APA, run by the APA’s committee on the teaching of philosophy. Every other..
The University of Essex Department of Philosophy will no longer be requiring its second- and final-year undergraduate students to take formal, year-end written exams, as departments at most other British universities still do. In an essay in The Guardian, department head Fabian Freyenhagen writes:
We realised, in response to feedback from students and employers, ..
A philosophy professor has written in with some questions about anonymous or “blind” grading, in which the identity of the student whose work is being assessed is not known to the grader. The majority opinion in philosophy appears to be that there are strong moral reasons in support of anonymous grading. Yet, there are questions about evidence for it, as well as abo..
A reader brought to my attention a petition from 17-year-old Zishi Zhang claiming that there are currently no women included in the A-Level OCR Philosophy and Ethics syllabus, and calling to change this . (A-levels are the course and exam requirements students in the UK and elsewhere must typically meet in order to graduate from high school and attend college. “OCR”..
In a comment on a previous post, What’s “Core” and What’s “Peripheral” in Philosophy—and Why?, Brian Weatherson (Michigan) notes that there are “some practical questions that need answering from time to time.” They are:
- Which subfields of philosophy should a philosophy major be required to take courses in?
- Which subfields of philosophy should a PhD student be ..
Following on the heels of last week’s discussion of non-philosophers teaching critical thinking, the Chronicle of Higher Education drew attention to a meta-analysis of studies about whether colleges succeed in teaching critical thinking at all. As it turns out, they do:
Students’ critical-thinking skills do improve in college. The difference is comparable to a st..