Overcoming Student Learning Bottlenecks
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Decoding the Disciplines is a widely-used and proven methodology that prompts teachers to identify the bottlenecks - the places where students get stuck - that impede learners' paths to expert thinking in a discipline. The process is based on recognizing the gap between novice learning and expert thinking, and uncovering tacit knowledge that may not be made manifest in teaching.Through "e;decoding"e;, implicit expert knowledge can be turned into explicit mental tasks, and made available to students. This book presents a seven-step process for uncovering bottlenecks and determining the most effective way to enable students to surmount them.The authors explain how to apply the seven steps of Decoding the Disciplines - how to identify bottlenecks, unpack the critical thinking of experts, teach students how to do this kind of thinking, and how to evaluate the degree to which students have learned to do it. They provide in-depth descriptions of each step and, at the end of each chapter, at least one exercise the reader can do on his or her own. Because the decoding process works well with groups, they also provide exercises for leading groups through the process, making available to informal groups as well as groups led by professional developers, the tools to transform their understanding of teaching and learning by getting the student view that they refer to as "e;the bottleneck perspective"e;. Because it focuses on the mental moves that underlie the cognitive competencies we want students to develop, spelling out what critical thinking consists of for any field, the methodology helps teachers to get beyond focus on content delivery and transmission and provides criteria to select from the bewildering array of teaching tools the methods most appropriate to what they are teaching.This is a book for faculty who want their students to develop disciplinary forms of reasoning, and are moreover interested in a methodology with the potential to transform and reinvigorate their teaching. It is particularly suitable for use in communities of practice, and should be indispensable for any one engaged in cross-disciplinary teaching, as it enables co-teachers to surface each other's tacit knowledge and disciplinary assumptions.