Rethinking the Presentation of the Teaching Guide
by Ryan Bowen, CFT Graduate Assistant
When we try a new teaching approach, we may have a sense that there is research that can help us make choices about how to implement it. Often, however, it can be a challenge to find that research. What journals is it found in? What are the right terms to use to find it? And if you find one article reporting the “right” way to do something, is it an outlier, or does it represent results observed in other studies as well? Figuring out the answers to these questions can be time-consuming and frustrating.
CBE-Life Sciences Education (LSE), a peer-reviewed teaching journal focused on the biological sciences, has begun developing evidence-based teaching guides that organize articles and resources on particular teaching approaches. The guides are found at https://lse.ascb.org/. The guides provide summaries of research findings about that teaching approach in the college context, organized around choices that instructors make. The research findings are accompanied by links to and summaries of key articles that led to the conclusions. Figures 1-4 show progression through a guide, moving from the broadest view to the most specific. In addition to the summaries and links, the guides also provide an Instructor Checklist pdf that can be viewed as a condensed version of the guide, summarizing key points instructors want to consider in a format that’s easy to work with during class planning.
Figure 1: The Group Work evidence-based teaching guide by CBE-Life Sciences Education.
The first available guide is focused on group work. It begins by describing benefits, definitions, and underpinnings of utilizing group work in teaching, and then branches off into the types of groups. Formal group work has more choices associated with it, and thus has additional nodes within the guide: Choosing Group Characteristics; Group Setting, Structures, and Norms; Accountability; and Task Structure. Each of these nodes then has subtopics as well.
The presentation and structure of the guide is intended to allow for easy processing and access to information relevant to the overall topic. Each node (i.e., Instructor Checklist, Accountability, or Task Features) is clickable and responsive.
Figure 2: The Accountability node and subtopics which are all clickable and responsive within the teaching guide.
Figure 3: The Accountability node page after clicking on Accountability in the teaching guide. The subtopics shown in the initial diagram are listed and can be clicked to yield specific information.
Figure 4: The specific information listed under the Individual and Group Accountability subtopic. It can be seen that the teaching guide recommends four different research articles related to individual and group accountability that the reader can click on and be redirected to the article or journal log-in page.
These teaching guides provide a new way to visualize pedagogies, making it easy to digest pertinent information to address the needs of a course. Furthermore, the hierarchical model allows instructors to find specific papers, resources, and guides about teaching interests they have targeted. While group work is the only available evidence-based teaching guide available, more are expected.