Dr. Andy Stanfield dropped by the FIT to Teach Podcast Center to discuss his approach to teaching in his Humanities courses.
Dr. Stanfield is a veteran teacher of Humanities who uses differentiated instruction as a way to motivate his students to be productive. Dr. Carol Tomlinson, a differentiated instructor expert, explains the “idea of differentiating instruction is an approach to teaching that advocates active planning for and attention to student differences in classrooms, in the context of high-quality curriculums.” Dr. Stanfield addresses student differences by allowing them to make choices about which assignments they will complete for grades in his HUM 2051 courses.
To supplement poignant lectures, he allows his students to choose from 25 different writing assignments. He also includes quizzes and a final exam to finish the course. His syllabus states: “In this class, you are trying to accumulate points, with 900 earning an A. There are over 1500 points possible, so choose the assignments you wish to attempt.” He encourages timeliness of their choices by adding “Remember, however, that there are deadlines for each assignment and late work will not be accepted, so choose wisely!” This puts the onus on the student and motivates them to work hard.
His list of assignments includes multiple civilization reports on a variety of different cultures, response papers to nine different reading assignments and essays on works of historical fiction. Having a menu of assignments to choose from allows his students to take ownership of their learning while at the same time motivating them to write, and his approach gets them to write a lot.
In his FIT to Teach interview, Dr. Stanfield discusses the civilization reports and offers his template for the world to use (link below). These civilization reports make use of an instructional strategy called "Chunking" that helps aid in organizing information for long-term memory
Simple and effective.