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Novice teaching mistakes (Part 2)

Posted on: October 19, 2016

In Part 1 of my reflection of teaching mistakes by novice future faculty (FF), I focused on implementation mistakes that might recur.

Today I focus on planning mistakes.

Confusing teaching objectives with learning outcomes. Objectives are what instructors focus on; that is what they plan on doing during a lesson. Outcomes focus on the learners; these are what students need to be able to attempt and achieve after an experience.

I find that many FF still think that their stating or demonstrating something is the same as their students learning it. If only teaching and learning was that easy a matter of transference!

If we focus on learners and learning, we seek evidence of change and only students can provide it because we are not mind-readers. Educators can create numerous opportunities (see the orange and green bands in Bloom’s revised taxonomy below).

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

[Larger version, CC-BY-NC-SA] [My notes on BT revised]

Bloom’s taxonomy (BT) is taken as a prescriptive framework instead of a descriptive one. The conventional representation of BT (revised version) is a triangle with a broad base of remembering and an apex of creating. FF, and indeed many teachers, assume that they must always proceed from simple to complex.

Some experts take the deductive approach. Having previously struggled with a learning journey, an expert might wish to simplify the journey for someone else. The deductive method might mean sharing general principles and then illustrating with examples (generic to specific).

This is the approach that most textbooks use because authors and publishers try to inform in the absence of an instructor. However, instructors who rely on the textbook might adopt the same deductive strategy.

There are problems with this approach. It does not reflect authentic learning nor does it embrace complexities and subjectivities in the wider world. Problems that require the application of theories are rarely of a textbook nature.

This approach also focuses on learning-about over learning-to-be. The instructor gained expertise and is passionate about the academic subject perhaps because of the struggle while learning. Simplifying and reducing takes this experience away from new learners.

One reason why employers might lament that graduates are not prepared for “the real world” is because students are taught to operate in a textbook, deductive-only, and inauthentic bubble.

Today I have reflected on just two of several novice instructor mistakes in planning for teaching. Tomorrow, I highlight a few mindsets that hold back more effective and innovative teaching.

2 Responses to "Novice teaching mistakes (Part 2)"

Matthew Stott: Novice teaching mistakes (Part 2)… via


[…] A good example of this internalisation is how teachers mistake the descriptive model of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a prescriptive one. […]


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