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…)
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..
A new philosophy show is in the works, and its creator has made three of its episodes—which together make up a miniseries on the philosophy of war—available to anyone teaching a course to which they would be relevant. (more…)
Nancy McHugh, professor of philosophy at Wittenberg University, teaches philosophy in prisons as part of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. These classes are held in prison and have 15 regularly enrolled undergraduates (“outside” students) in them and 15 students who are inmates (“inside” students). McHugh recently co-authored a paper with a group that included..
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…)
Thomas Pogge, whose alleged extracurricular activities, including sexual harassment, have been the subject of numerous posts here, is having his own place in the curriculum questioned. Pogge retains, for now, a prestigious named professorship at Yale. An article at Inside Higher Ed this morning discusses whether professors who believe he has acted at least problemat..
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…)
The following is a guest post* by Simon Fokt (Edinburgh), who, among other things, created the Diversity Reading List, a resource for those interested in including in their teaching works by authors from groups traditionally underrepresented in philosophy.
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..
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..
The following is a guest post* from Andrew Higgins, who recently received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He spent some time combing through data at the Open Syllabus Project (previously) and in the post presents some information that should be of interest to fellow philosophers. Thanks, Dr. Higgins!
Philosophy Data from..
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..
TeachPhilosophy101 is an open-source compendium of resources helpful for teaching philosophy. It’s mission is “to enhance undergraduate student learning in introductory philosophy courses by providing free, user-friendly strategies and resources to the academic community.”
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..
Welcome back to Ought Experiment! Today’s question is from a full professor that has done everything right, built a successful career, and yet finds her/himself miserable in professional philosophy. S/he wants to know whether it’s just a case of burnout or whether it’s time to go:
I have been a professor for almost 20 years. I’ve worked h..
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 ..
Welcome back to Ought Experiment, which sadly is not a comic strip. I think this week’s question is about getting kids to do the assigned readings, but if I’m being totally honest with you here, I kind of skimmed the letter:
I can’t get my students to do the readings! Maybe a third of them will be with me for the first few weeks, but term after te..
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..
What is an “intellectually safe space”? In “What Does Intellectual Safety Really Mean?” Katelyn Hallman (North Florida) notes:
An intellectually safe environment, as typically construed, is something like an environment “in which a person feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions without fear of harsh judgment or repercussions.” This conception of intellectual..
Lecturing as a teaching style is not particularly trendy these days, but perhaps it is particularly well-suited for the humanities. Writing in the New York Times, history professor Molly Worthen (UNC) makes the case:
In the humanities, there are sound reasons for sticking with the traditional model of the large lecture course combined with small weekly discussion..
“Critical thinking” means a very particular sort of thing to philosophers (mostly identifying, reconstructing, and evaluating arguments), but in the desperate struggle to stay relevant, other academic disciplines have started to appropriate the term “critical thinking” to describe what they do. I have read blog posts and articles by historians and literature profess..