Cover Page

Developing Learner-Centered Teaching

A Practical Guide for Faculty

Phyllis Blumberg

Foreword by Maryellen Weimer

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The Jossey-Bass

Higher and Adult Education Series

Tables, Exhibits, Figures, and Boxes

Tables

  1. 1.1 Contrasts Between Instructor-Centered and Learner-Centered Approaches for the Pharmacy Management Course
  2. 1.2 Contrasts Between Instructor-Centered and Learner-Centered Approaches on Each of the Five Dimensions of Learner-Centered Teaching
  3. 1.3 Incremental Transitions from Instructor-Centered to Learner-Centered Teaching on the Level to Which Students Engage in Their Learning
  4. 1.4 Incremental Transitions from Instructor-Centered to Learner-Centered Teaching on One Component of Each of the Five Dimensions of Learner-Centered Teaching
  5. 1.5 The Rubric for the Role of the Instructor Dimension of Learner-Centered Teaching
  1. 2.1 The Rubric for the Function of Content Dimension of Learner-Centered Teaching
  2. 2.2 Component 3 of the Function of Content Dimension
  3. 2.3 Example of Quantitative Gradations on a Row of a Rubric
  4. 2.4 A Guide to Interpreting Quantitative Gradations on the Rubrics
  5. 2.5 Example of Qualitative Gradations on a Rubric
  6. 2.6 Example of Gradations Involving Subcriteria on a Rubric
  7. 2.7 Where Students Learn and Use Information Literacy Skills in an Occupational Therapy Curriculum
  8. 2.8 The Development and Use of Information Literacy Skills During an Occupational Therapy Curriculum
  9. 2.9 Comprehension Check on the Rubrics
  1. 4.1 The Rubric for the Function of Content Dimension of Learner-Centered Teaching
  2. 4.2 Level to Which Students Engage in Content
  3. 4.3 Use of Organizing Schemes
  4. 4.4 Use of Content to Facilitate Future Learning
  5. 4.5 Ratings for the Psych 101 Course on the Function of Content Dimension
  1. 5.1 The Rubric for the Role of the Instructor Dimension of Learner-Centered Teaching
  2. 5.2 Alignment of Levels of Objectives, Teaching or Learning Methods, and Assessment Methods
  3. 5.3 Alignment of Levels of Objectives, Teaching or Learning Methods, and Assessment Methods in the Psych 101 Course
  4. 5.4 Ratings for the Psych 101 Course on the Role of the Instructor Dimension
  5. 5.5 Alignment of Levels of Objectives, Teaching or Learning Methods, and Assessment Methods of Your Course
  1. 6.1 The Rubric for the Responsibility for Learning Dimension of Learner-Centered Teaching
  2. 6.2 Ratings for the Psych 101 Course on the Responsibility for Learning Dimension of Learner-Centered Teaching
  1. 7.1 The Rubric for the Purposes and Processes of Assessment Dimension of Learner-Centered Teaching
  2. 7.2 Examples of Types of Activities for Which Peer and Self-Assessments Are Appropriate
  3. 7.3 Ratings for the Psych 101 Course on the Purposes and Processes of Assessment Dimension
  1. 8.1 The Rubric for the Balance of Power Dimension of Learner-Centered Teaching
  2. 8.2 Ratings for the Psych 101 Course on the Balance of Power
  3. 8.3 Summary of Low-Risk Changes Along with the Components They Would Influence
  4. 8.4 Suggested Changes with Potential for Great Impact on Student Learning and the Learner-Centeredness of the Psych 101 Course
  1. 9.1 Components Relevant to Course Planning or Implementation Considerations with Less Motivated, Less Mature, and Nontraditional Students
  2. 9.2 Learner-Centered Instructors Will Explicitly Teach How to Use These Components to Less Motivated, Less Mature, and Nontraditional Students
  3. 9.3 Components Relevant to Course Planning or Implementation Considerations with Different Levels of Courses
  4. 9.4 Components That Learner-Centered Instructors Will Explicitly Teach How to Use in Different Levels of Courses
  5. 9.5 The Unique Relationships Among Components and Content
  6. 9.6 Development of the Balance of Power Dimension for an Occupational Therapy Program
  7. 9.7 The Function of Content: Analysis of Your Course Characteristics
  8. 9.8 Analyses of Your Course Characteristics by Dimension

Exhibits

  1. 3.1 The Planning for Transformation Exercise
  2. 3.2 The Planning for Transformation Exercise for the Pharmacy Management Course Described in Chapter One
  3. 3.3 The Documentation to Support the Selected Status Form
  4. 3.4 The Documentation to Support the Selected Status Form for the Pharmacy Management Course
  1. 4.1 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 1 for the Function of Content Component 1
  2. 4.2 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 2 for the Function of Content Component 2
  3. 4.3 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 3 for the Function of Content Component 3
  1. 5.1 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 1 for the Role of the Instructor Component 2
  1. 6.1 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 1 for the Responsibility for Learning Component 1
  2. 6.2 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 2 for the Responsibility for Learning Component 2
  3. 6.3 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 3 for the Responsibility for Learning Component 4
  1. 7.1 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 1 for the Purposes and Processes of Assessment Components 1 and 2
  2. 7.2 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 2 for the Purposes and Processes of Assessment Component 5
  1. 8.1 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 1 for the Balance of Power Component 3
  2. 8.2 The Planning for Transformation Exercise 2 for the Balance of Power Component 5

Figures

  1. 5.1 Diagram of Possible Interactions Among Students, Instructor, and Content
  2. 5.2 Learner-Centered Interactions Among Students, Instructor, and Content
  3. 5.3 Diagram of the Interactions Among Students, Instructor, and Content in the Psych 101 Course

Boxes

  1. 1.1 Pharmacy Systems Management: A Learner-Centered Course
  1. 4.1 Learner-Centered Example of Know Why They Need to Learn Content
  2. 4.2 Learner-Centered Example of Acquire Discipline-Specific Learning Methodologies
  3. 4.3 Learner-Centered Example of Use Inquiry or Ways of Thinking in the Discipline
  4. 4.4 Learner-Centered Example of Learn to Solve Real-World Problems
  5. 4.5 Learner-Centered Example of Level to Which Students Engage in Content
  6. 4.6 Learner-Centered Example of Use of Content to Facilitate Future Learning
  7. 4.7 Learner-Centered Example of Use of Organizing Schemes
  1. 5.1 Learner-Centered Example of Creating an Environment for Learning
  2. 5.2 Learner-Centered Example of Accommodating Different Learning Styles
  3. 5.3 Learner-Centered Example of Alignment of the Course Components
  4. 5.4 Learner-Centered Example of Teaching or Learning Methods Appropriate for Student Learning Goals
  5. 5.5 Learner-Centered Example of Activities Involving Student, Instructor, and Content Interactions
  6. 5.6 Learner-Centered Example of Motivation of Students to Learn
  1. 6.1 Learner-Centered Example of Responsibility for Learning
  2. 6.2 Learner-Centered Example of Students’ Self-Assessment of Their Learning
  3. 6.3 Learner-Centered Example of Students’ Self-Assessment of Their Strengths and Weaknesses
  4. 6.4 Learner-Centered Example of Information Literacy Skills
  5. 6.5 Learner-Centered Example of Responsibility for Learning
  6. 6.6 Learner-Centered Example of Learning-to-Learn Skills
  7. 6.7 Learner-Centered Example of Students’ Self-Assessment of Their Learning
  1. 7.1 Learner-Centered Example 1 of Assessment Within the Learning Process: The Readiness Assessment Test
  2. 7.2 Learner-Centered Example 2 of Assessment Within the Learning Process: The Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique
  3. 7.3 Learner-Centered Examples of Formative Assessment
  4. 7.4 Learner-Centered Example of Peer and Self-Assessment
  5. 7.5 Learner-Centered Example of Demonstration of Mastery and Ability to Learn from Mistakes
  6. 7.6 Learner-Centered Example of Authentic Assessment
  1. 8.1 Learner-Centered Example of Determination of Course Content
  2. 8.2 Learner-Centered Example of Expression of Alternative Perspectives
  3. 8.3 Learner-Centered Example of Determination of How Students Earn Grades
  4. 8.4 Learner-Centered Example of Use of Open-Ended Assignments
  5. 8.5 Learner-Centered Example 1 of Flexibility of Course Policies, Assessment Methods, Learning Methods, and Deadlines: Group Determination of Weights for Grading
  6. 8.6 Learner-Centered Example of Opportunities to Learn
  7. 8.7 Learner-Centered Example 2 of Flexibility of Course Policies, Assessment Methods, Learning Methods, and Deadlines: Contract of Student and Instructor Responsibilities
  1. 9.1 Myths about Learner-Centered Teaching
  2. 9.2 Planned Progression for Increasing the Balance of Power Across an Educational Program

Preface

LEARNER-CENTERED TEACHING shifts the role of the instructors from givers of information to facilitators of student learning. There is still some confusion about how to achieve learner-centered teaching. For many educators, moving toward learner-centered teaching requires significant adjustments and takes a while. To make that shift successfully, instructors need further explanations about what learner-centered teaching is and how they can apply it in all kinds of college and university courses.

At my institution, I persistently tried to assist instructors to make their teaching more learner-centered (Blumberg, 2004). The more I tried to get instructors to make changes in their teaching, the clearer it became that some of them did not know how to make these changes. Therefore, I decided that I needed to develop a better way to help instructors transition to learner-centered teaching. This book is the product of my largely fruitful efforts.

Rationale for This Book

Many of us need further explanation about how to change our teaching to be more learner-centered. As instructors, we are still unsure about how to achieve learner-centered teaching. Some instructors believe that they can implement such practices only in small classes or advanced courses. Others feel that using learner-centered approaches would negatively affect the content and rigor of their courses because the time students spend on active learning activities would force a reduction in the amount or level of content covered (Blumberg & Everett, 2005). This book addresses these issues and concerns.

Another impediment is the fact that learner-centered approaches may appear difficult to achieve. Even those of us who see the need to make this change are unsure about how to proceed. Often our teaching is so unlike what the literature describes as “learner-centered” that we are overwhelmed by the apparent enormity of the task. To teach using learner-centered practices requires the development of new skills and attitudes (Sorcinelli, Austin, Eddy, & Beach, 2006). To show you how to teach using learner-centered approaches, this book advocates for making small, incremental changes that you can implement both immediately and over time. Although achieving a learner-centered course is the desired goal, it may not be practical to be completely learner-centered in all courses.

Scope of This Book

This book is a practical, self-instructional guide to transforming teaching incrementally. It includes explanations, guidelines, examples, self-assessments, and planning tools that will help you transform your courses by making incremental changes in different dimensions. The book discusses a continuum from instructor-centered to learner-centered approaches to teaching. It defines components of and discusses implementation examples of learner-centered teaching on five dimensions:

  • The function of content
  • The role of the instructor
  • The responsibility for learning
  • The purposes and processes of assessment
  • The balance of power

Much of this book is devoted to specific activities you can do to transform your teaching. This book shows that there are many different approaches to transforming teaching to a learner-centered approach. To give you a better idea of what a learner-centered course might look like and how to transform a course, this book uses case studies. You’ll learn ways to determine the learner-centered status of your courses. You can use this learner-centered status determination as an assessment tool for educational programs and as a way to plan for transformation. This book also discusses how to overcome challenges to becoming a learner-centered instructor.

Purposes of This Book

Instructors and administrators can use the tools contained in this book as a vehicle to transform courses to be more learner-centered, or as a way to assess the learner-centered status of educational programs or of your own teaching, program assessment, or to document how individuals teach.

Transform Courses to Be More Learner-Centered

Within the last decade many individuals—for example, Doherty, Riordan, and Roth (2002), the authors of the National Report on Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College (Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2002), Weimer (2002), and Tagg (2003)—have discussed learner-centered teaching. Although this recent literature defined and described learner-centered teaching, it often is less pragmatic in describing ways to implement the changes that instructors need to make to achieve that goal (Wright, 2006). The primary purpose of this book is to address this shortcoming.

This book defines a practical system for implementing incremental changes to make courses more learner-centered. Using this systematic guide, you will use self-assessment tools to identify the learner-centered status of courses. These tools include a set of rubrics that identify incremental steps to transform a course from instructor-centered to learner-centered in five separate dimensions as well as a Planning for Transformation exercise. A rubric is a written summary of the criteria and different levels or standards for each criterion to evaluate someone or something (Walvoord, 2004). The Planning for Transformation exercise will help you plan how to transform your current approach to a more learner-centered approach while maintaining or increasing the standards of your course. You will have opportunities to apply what you learn by assessing a course of your own and identifying ways in which you can make it more learner-centered. After using the self-instructional guides provided in this book, you should have the necessary skills and new attitudes to use learner-centered teaching effectively. The outcome of these changes should be increased student learning.

For many of us, incorporating a few techniques is an important step within an incremental change process. However, we may be at a loss as to learner-centered techniques. Throughout the book, you will find examples of such techniques. Many are easy to adopt and do not require major changes in the way we teach.

Assess the Learner-Centered Status of Educational Programs or of Your Teaching

Many institutions of higher learning and educational programs claim that they are learner-centered. Because accountability is an important goal in higher education, we need ways to show that we are doing what we say we are doing. This book gives an easy-to-use method for determining the learner-centered status of our institutions or our educational programs. This method includes the set of rubrics that help you identify the status, from instructor-centered to learner-centered, in five separate dimensions and a Documentation to Support the Selected Status form to document your rationale or cite examples to support why you chose the rating you did. The rubrics describe instructor behaviors for each of the five dimensions of learner-centered teaching. You can use the rubrics to show a snapshot of your current implementation of learner-centered teaching. Alternatively, you might use these rubrics in a pre- and post-transformation of changes within an educational program. Individual instructors can use the rubrics to document how their teaching has evolved as they incorporate more learner-centered practices.

Audience

The primary audience for this book is instructors of all disciplines in community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities who are considering transforming their instruction to be learner-centered. This book gives practical help that applies to all disciplines and courses. New instructors who are just deciding how to teach and mid-career instructors who are ready to change their teaching approaches may find this book especially helpful.

The book is particularly useful for instructors of general education courses who are continually challenged to present content in an environment that motivates students to learn, are expected to develop students’ abilities to take responsibility for their own learning, and need to facilitate students’ abilities to apply their acquired knowledge and skills in other courses. In addition, the book offers suggestions for transforming advanced undergraduate and graduate or professional courses. Further, it’s clear that many science and health professions instructors are reluctant to adopt learner-centered approaches because of the required rigor of their courses; this book addresses this concern by describing many examples that come from the sciences in general and the clinical sciences in particular.

Another primary audience is administrators and instructors who are doing assessments of their educational programs or of their own teaching. This book describes an easy-to-use tool that administrators and instructors can use in assessments of educational programs. This tool shows the status of courses or educational programs on the continuum from instructor-centered to learner-centered.

A secondary audience is faculty developers and instructional designers who help instructors at their institutions transform their teaching. These faculty-support people can use the rubrics in one-on-one consultations with instructors or in faculty development workshops to determine instructors’ level of comfort with learner-centered teaching practices and their understanding of these practices. The rubrics can serve as stimuli for discussions about how to implement learner-centered approaches in workshops. The application activities given throughout this book work well in such workshops. Ongoing faculty development programs, such as week-long workshops or a summer institute, can use this book as a basis to transform courses. Faculty learning communities may focus on different dimensions as they work together to change their courses.

Still another audience is graduate students either in higher education courses or in Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) programs. These students can use the techniques and information in this book to design learner-centered courses.

Overview of the Book

You will find that this book is easier to read than it appears at first glance. This is intended to be a workbook or guide as well as resource throughout your transformation process. It follows a consistent pattern. I support the concepts with tables, exhibits, and case studies or examples. I explain all the tables, and I use the same format for all of the rubrics. Exhibits contain worksheets or forms; boxes describe implementation examples or case studies.

Part One: Transforming Teaching to Be More Learner-Centered

Chapter One explains the rationale for why instructors should adopt learner-centered approaches, gives a case example of a learner-centered course, and describes a continuum from instructor-centered to learner-centered on five dimensions. In Chapter Two you will learn how to read and understand the rubrics. Chapter Three shows the ways the rubrics can help you make incremental transitions on the learner-centered continuum.

You will learn how to begin to transform your course toward being more learner-centered. You will also see how to assess educational programs on their status, from instructor-centered to learner-centered.

Part Two: The Five Dimensions of Learner-Centered Teaching

Chapters Four through Eight correspond respectively to the five dimensions of learner-centered teaching: the Function of Content, the Role of the Instructor, the Responsibility for Learning, the Purposes and Processes of Assessment, and the Balance of Power. Each chapter explains the components of the rubric for that dimension and describes implementation examples to foster your understanding of learner-centered teaching. To illustrate the process, this part uses a case example showing how the instructor of a general education course assessed and began to transform the course from instructor-centered to learner-centered. Each chapter ends with an application activity to use with your own course, to help you rate the status of your course on the rubrics. These activities assist your identification of which components you want to transform and how you will transform them.

The implementation examples, set off in boxes, describe specific learner-centered practices. Many of these techniques achieve more than one component of learner-centered teaching either within the same dimension or in other dimensions. These examples, coming from a variety of disciplines and types of courses, should give you ideas for what you can do in your own courses. For example, many of these examples come from the sciences because instructors in these content-rich disciplines often have trouble trying to adopt learner-centered practices. Many other examples come from general education courses because many instructors believe that upper-level or advanced courses are better adapted to incorporate learner-centered practices.

Part Three: Discussion and Conclusion

This part of the book describes a systematic change process for becoming a more learner-centered instructor. It considers large aspects of the transformational process, such as considering what aspects of your course can be learner-centered and how to overcome obstacles. Although we may strive to achieve a total learner-centered approach, it may not be realistic or obtainable in every course. Chapter Nine discusses factors to consider when determining whether a learner-centered approach is appropriate for a particular course. It shows how instructors of lower-level classes or classes with large enrollment can incorporate learner-centered approaches. Chapter Ten discusses strategies for overcoming resistance. It can be difficult to change the way you teach: various people, including yourself, your students, your peers, your chair, and the administrators at your institution may resist change when you begin this transition. Chapter Eleven summarizes the incremental approach, helping you begin to see where you can make changes to gradually transform your teaching to become learner-centered.

If you make changes in several components, a very different teaching-learning-assessment dynamic will emerge in your courses. Therefore, you need an assessment tool to document your progress. You can use these rubrics as this assessment tool to determine the learner-centered status of educational programs or of your own teaching.

The appendices add the following material:

  1. A. Glossary of terms
  2. B. The rubrics, the Planning for Transformation exercise, and the Documentation to Support the Selected Status form
  3. C. Development of the rubrics

Getting the Most Out of This Book

This book will teach you how to determine the learner-centered status of courses and how you can transform courses to be more learner-centered in a systematic and incremental way. You should analyze the present status of one of your courses and think about ways of transforming it in the following order:

  1. Understand and accept the rationale for learner-centered teaching. Chapter One discusses the rationale for learner-centered teaching by summarizing the supporting literature.
  2. Understand the dimensions and the components within these dimensions. You will achieve this by reading the chapter explanations.
  3. Complete the application activity, which prepares you to complete the rubric. The application activities will help you think about the status of your course and possibilities for change.
  4. Complete the rubrics for the course as it is now.
  5. Decide which components of which dimensions you want to transform. Your answers to the application activities and on the rubrics should assist you in your selections.
  6. Complete the Planning for Transformation exercise for those components you want to change.

The more actively you engage with this book, the easier it will be for you to transform your teaching to more learner-centered approaches. Choose a specific course to use as you read the book and complete the steps just outlined. You can discuss the techniques you wish to incorporate with peers in your department. You may want to try out some techniques within the course as you are teaching it. How you engage with the material is a matter of personal style. I recommend that you write your responses to the questions and fill out the answers to the questions given in the application activities. You may also choose to discuss your thoughts with a trusted colleague.

The implementation examples or techniques should help you think about and discuss becoming more learner-centered. After reading about these techniques, you should decide if this technique could work with your courses. Ask yourself, “Can I implement this technique in my teaching?”

Once you understand how to use the rubrics and the planning for transformation exercise, described in Part One, you can read the rest of the book in order, or choose to focus on a specific dimension, or read about the different dimensions in any order you choose.

Acknowledgments

This book represents years of collaboration with many instructors as they tried to become more learner-centered. I want to acknowledge the support and assistance of the instructors and administration of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia with whom I tested the ideas in this book. I am indebted to over 250 people who offered their ideas and constructive criticisms when they attended my workshops given at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and at various professional conferences, including POD, The Teaching Professor, Lilly-East, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and Educause. They helped me to define the components and the levels on the rubrics. Many people helped with specific wording and organization of the book. The most notable of these are David Brightman, my wise editor at Jossey-Bass, Janis Fisher Chan, the three external reviewers, Justin Everett, Anne Marie Flanagan, JoAnn Gonzalez-Major, Alison Mostrom, Deirdre Pettipiece, Glenn Rosenthal, and the production staff at Jossey-Bass, especially Cathy Mallon. Salar Alsardary, David Brightman, Janis Fisher Chan, Christine Flanagan, Barbara Cohen-Kligerman, Paula Kramer, Madhu Mahalingam, and Jeanette McVeigh reviewed drafts of chapters for clarity and offered insightful comments. I also want to acknowledge the more than three dozen instructors who willingly shared their examples of learner-centered teaching that I discuss throughout the book. Andrew Peterson, the instructors of the Occupational Therapy program at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia—especially Paula Kramer, their chair—and Linda Robinson shared their courses to serve as the main case studies in the book.

My sister, Ella Singer, read the entire book for the tiny mistakes I would never see and offered new insights. I also want to thank her for her enthusiasm for this project. Mary Rafferty assisted on the clerical and administrative parts of the book. She contacted every instructor who provided examples and secured their permission.

Finally, I want to express my love and appreciation for my son Noah Kosherick for his patience during the many hours that he did not interrupt me as I worked on this book. I also want to thank my other sons Adam and Barry Kosherick for their love and support.

PHYLLIS BLUMBERG
June 2008
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

Dedicated in loving memory of my parents,
Morton and Dora Blumberg, who encouraged me
to learn and who were my first teachers

Foreword

AUTHOR PHYLLIS BLUMBERG is right. Faculty are increasingly open to the ideas of learner-centered teaching. Today’s college students, particularly those in the eighteen-to-twenty-three-year-old cohort, are not easy to teach. They are best reached when teachers use a broad repertoire of instructional strategies, especially those that engage and involve them in learning tasks. However, many faculty do not know how to go about designing or implementing strategies that make students more responsible for learning. Developing Learner-Centered Teaching: A Practical Guide for Faculty addresses those needs. The kind of specifics and details offered herein do much to ensure that when faculty implement strategies focused on student learning, those strategies work successfully.

I couldn’t agree more that faculty new to learner-centered approaches need to implement changes incrementally. I always worry when faculty have instructional conversion experiences. They read a book or attend a workshop and suddenly see the light. They head out to class the next day as changed instructors. Given the reality of teaching loads plus other academic responsibilities such as research and service, it is very difficult to implement and sustain extensive amounts of instructional change, regardless of how appropriate those changes are or how much they may be needed. Besides the difficulty of sustaining the change, the effects of trying something new and having it fail are not positive. After faculty have too many of those experiences, their motivation to change decreases significantly. So the gradual approach to change advocated in this book makes good sense.

Beyond advocating for a reasonable approach to change, this book identifies what those incremental steps might be and how they could be ordered. It does so for a wide range of learner-centered strategies using a comprehensive set of rubrics that make the process of implementing these approaches thoughtful and systematic.

I enthusiastically concur that examples are the best way to show what this way of engaging students looks like in the classroom. And this book is full of examples, including a case study that is carried through the book and multiple other illustrations drawn from the literature and Blumberg’s extensive experience working with faculty who are interested in making their teaching more learner-centered. Moreover, these examples are ones busy teachers can apply without extraordinary effort. And the examples are applicable across a wide range of disciplines.

I couldn’t agree more that all courses can have learner-centered components, but being completely learner-centered is not realistic for all courses. It is both sad and unnecessary when faculty dichotomously position learner-centered teaching and lecturing, assuming the use of one rules out inclusion of the other. There are times when students learn best through the teacher’s telling. There are times when such telling rolls off students like water off a duck’s back. Teachers need to be able to look at the content and the students in light of their learning goals and make sanguine decisions about methods. This book helps inform that decision-making process.

I couldn’t agree more that learner-centered approaches are not about watering down course content and otherwise compromising academic standards. However, faculty with questions about the viability of these approaches are not likely to be persuaded by assertions. This book answers these objections by demonstrating how and why learner-centered approaches maintain content integrity while at the same time they help students achieve a deeper mastery of the material.

This book is not escapist reading with a few instructional nuggets to be gleaned here and there. It’s not a book to be digested during that fifteen-minute lunch break. It’s not a book that renews teacher dedication to a noble vocation. The book does highlight relevant theory, but it is not a theoretical tome. This book is a workbook—a self-help book in the best sense of the word. As Blumberg notes, “the more actively you engage with the book, the easier it will be for you to transform your teaching to more learner-centered approaches.” Said even more directly, it is a book that will give back in full measure what is put into it. If used as it is designed, it will encourage faculty to look deeply and honestly at the instructional strategies they use. It will challenge them to consider other strategies—ones that might better accomplish their goals for learners. It will guide them through the process of designing and implementing new approaches to teaching. And it will help them determine how successful those endeavors were.

Regularly now in the presentations I give about my book, Learner-Centered Teaching, I note how much I wish my book offered more on implementation issues. Now there is a whole book to which faculty can be referred—a well-documented book that handles the implementation of learner-center approaches to teaching with integrity, robustness, and careful attention to detail. Thanks to Phyllis Blumberg for this much-needed contribution to the literature on teaching that promotes learning.

MARYELLEN WEIMER
Professor Emeritus, Penn State University

The Author

Phyllis Blumberg has been teaching using learner-centered approaches to first-year college through graduate and medical students for over twenty-five years. Although she has used many learner-centered approaches, in particular she often teaches using problem-based learning. She began and directed one of the early problem-based learning programs for medical students in the 1980s.

Blumberg has worked for thirty years as a faculty developer with instructors in the health sciences and the sciences in general. She has worked with faculty at five universities in United States and Canada on a one-to-one basis to help them change their teaching so their students will learn more. Blumberg is currently the director of the Teaching and Learning Center and professor of social sciences and education at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. More than 80 percent of the instructors at her university voluntarily participate in at least one faculty development event or consult with her individually every year. Blumberg is the author of more than fifty articles on active learning, learner-centered teaching, problem-based learning, and program evaluation. She is a frequent presenter at POD, The Teaching Professor, Lilly-East, and other conferences, and she has given workshops at numerous colleges and universities across North America.

Blumberg earned her doctorate in educational and developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, Learning Research and Development Center.

Part One
Transforming Teaching to Be More Learner-Centered