This posting shares a chapter by Craig Nelson. In this chapter, Dysfunctional Illusions of Rigor: Lessons from the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, he questions traditional understandings of rigor and responds with a broader appreciation and goals for student learning. Through his own investigation, he discovered that he was awarding students with more resources and not necessarily improving students’ understanding of the discipline. Making small changes to his pedagogy improved student learning.

Four key components of many effective interactive pedagogies are extensive structuring of the learning tasks by the teacher, strongly interactive student-student learning, effective immediate debriefing or other assessments that furnish prompt feedback to the teacher on the actual learning, and subsequent instructional modifications.

In a welcoming style, he shares many of the adaptions he made, concepts he learned, and resources he used. Here is one example:

The best courses are those that most successfully achieve the outcomes we see as most important. Initially, I was most strongly focused on content, especially on conceptual mastery.

The studies already discussed show that learning, student retention, and equity can be strongly increased by adopting active learning, by actively teachings students how to read and write within the framework of the course, and probably by allowing more flexibility on exams and deadlines. As I began to understand much of this, I realized with some dismay that I really was going to have to cover noticeably less material in class. …Thus I found that by using guided reading I could foster out-of-class learning to teach some key aspects of the content more effectively that when I had lectured on it. The fault lay not with my students but rather with my pedagogy. The new approach specified deeper and clearer learning objectives, gave substantial help in seeing how to reach them, and limited coverage both in lecture and by skipping parts of the text.