Just what kind of teacher am I, anyway?

One way to figure that out is to take one of those pesky online ‘quizzes’ or ‘surveys’… or in this case, the Teaching Perspective Inventory.  This TPI informed me that my “dominant” Teaching Perspective was for Transmission at “35”, with Developmental a close second (33) , followed by Apprenticeship (30) and Nurturing (26), with Social Reform falling in the ‘recessive’ range at “20”.  At least relative to each other, this was not really overly surprising from my perspective, knowing myself reasonably well and given that I teach mostly introductory Biology courses, where transmission of factual information (“Transmission”) as a basis and preparation for future learning (“Developmental”) is how I would summarize my primary goal.  What does all this mean?  I’ll direct readers to the Summary of Five Perspectives page to explain! (Go ahead and take a quick read, I’ll wait…)

(Welcome back!) What I found most interesting, and even encouraging, about my own results is how closely-aligned my results in most categories were in the beliefs, intentions, and actions axes.  The largest difference was a whopping 3 points in the “Developmental” perspective, where what I try to accomplish in my teaching (“intentions”) scored 3 points higher than both my beliefs (about whether it is important or justified) and actions (what I do when I’m teaching), but otherwise I seem to have little internal discrepancies in each Perspective.  I’ll take that as a sign that overall, I’m probably teaching what I think I’m teaching, and that I do perhaps understand a little bit about at least myself and my own teaching style, in that I’m not grossly misrepresenting myself to myself!  Whether my students and colleagues agree could be interesting to evaluate… in fact, I’ll be tempted to discuss these TPI results with my colleagues in my upcoming peer evaluations, in terms of whether my approach to teaching the courses I typically teach (large, introductory courses taught by multiple instructors) matches what others believe the overall goal of those courses to be.  However, given that the biggest discrepancy was in an area I do believe to be important (Developmental, i.e., building on students’ prior knowledge and helping them develop skills and knowledge to better succeed as future learners), I feel as though I might need to take a closer look at both what I’m doing in the classroom and whether I’m somehow misstating my own beliefs.  It’s possible that the questions I was answering weren’t quite the same as the questions being asked; I have had some experience making both exam and survey questions, and have gotten some… unexpected results, that may be explained as the result of different interpretations!.  It’s also admittedly possible that I have some biases that I’m not explicitly addressing, particularly in terms of taking students’ lifestyles, cultures, and/or personal histories into account, that may be pulling down my apparent belief in this Developmental perspective; I wonder if the difference isn’t picking up on my emphasis on preparing students for future work but not on their past histories?  Things to keep in mind, anyway, as I try to continue to improve my teaching for my students’ sake!



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