About the Series

Welcome to Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning, a podcast hosted by CTL Executive Director, Catherine Ross. Our mission is to encourage instructors, students, and leaders in higher education to reflect on what they believe about teaching and learning. In each episode, guests are invited to share their discoveries of “dead ideas”—ideas that are not true but that are often widely believed and embedded in the pedagogical choices we make. 

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Past conversations have focused on dead ideas in topics such as grading, teaching with technology, student motivation, assessment, and teaching and learning systems in the academy and how they need to be changed. Conversations also explore dead ideas exposed by the move to remote teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope these radically honest conversations will inspire lightbulb moments for our listeners as they seek to understand their own teaching and learning. To listen to an audio trailer, click here.

The theme originates from the article “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning” (The Sociological Quarterly, 2011) by Diane L. Pike, Professor of Sociology at Augsburg University. Pike writes, “Ideas are dead because they are no longer correct, if they ever were. They are tyranny because we cling to them despite the evidence…Clinging to dead ideas about teaching and learning limits our practice as professors. The resulting tyranny means we fail to educate our students as effectively as we might…The good news is that learned behaviors, sociologically informed reflection, and the application of the research in the scholarship of teaching and learning can liberate us and improve the experiences of teachers and learners alike.”

Where and When to Listen

Episodes are released every other Thursday and are approximately 30 minutes in length. Listen on this webpage (below) or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify

Join our email list or follow us on Twitter to hear about upcoming episodes. Send us questions and feedback at CTL-podcast@columbia.edu

Hosted by CTL Executive Director,
Catherine Ross

Latest Episode

Season 4, Episode 7: Two Years Later—Learning through a Pandemic with Two Columbia Undergraduate Students

Over the past two years, Columbia students have made multiple transitions between online, hybrid, and in-person learning during the pandemic. In today’s episode, Emma Fromont, a senior at Columbia’s School of General Studies, and Victor Jandres Rivera, a sophomore at Columbia College, discuss how these different modalities and contexts have shaped them as learners. Emma and Victor share dead ideas they have discovered in topics such as learning with technology, building community, and grading. They also share strategies that their instructors have used that have been particularly helpful in their learning. 

April 21, 2022. 33:14 min.

Transcript

Resource

  • Resources and reflections developed by the Undergraduate Student Consultants on Teaching and Learning with CTL staff, as part of the Students as Pedagogical Partners initiative 

This is the last episode of Season 4 of Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning. We will return with Season 5 in Fall 2022!

Season 4, Episode 6: Minding Bodies—How Physical Space, Sensation, and Movement Affect Learning with Susan Hrach

Today we speak with Susan Hrach, author of the book Minding Bodies: How Physical Space, Sensation, and Movement Affect Learning (2021), which “shifts the focus of adult learning from an exclusively mental effort toward an embodied, sensory-rich experience, offering new strategies to maximize the effectiveness of time spent learning together on campus as well as remotely.” Along with co-host Caitlin DeClercq, Assistant Director at the Columbia CTL, Professor Hrach expands upon how movement and space impact cognition and learning, and discusses some of the dead ideas this research debunks.

April 7, 2022. 31:30 min.

Transcript

Resource: Minding Bodies: How Physical Space, Sensation, and Movement Affect Learning (2021) by Susan Hrach. 

Listeners can receive a discount on the paperback and e-versions of the book through the WVU Press website with the code MINDING30 through June 30, 2022.

Season 4, Episode 5: The Impact of Student Perceptions of Instructor Authority on Resistance to Inclusive Teaching with Chavella Pittman and Thomas Tobin

Today we speak with Drs. Chavella Pittman and Thomas Tobin, authors of the article “Academe Has a Lot to Learn about How Inclusive Teaching Affects Instructors”, published in The Chronicle of Higher Education in February 2022. In the article, they write, “A key tenet of inclusive teaching asks faculty members to intentionally give up or share some of their power and authority in the classroom, so that students can experience a greater sense of ownership and choice over their own learning. Advocates of this approach tend to assume that every instructor has plenty of authority, power, and status to share. But what if you don’t?” In this episode, Chavella and Tom compare their experiences of student resistance to their use of ungrading and flexible deadline teaching practices. Along with co-host Rebecca Petitti of the Columbia CTL, they discuss why they wrote the article, and share what they believe are the most important action steps that can be taken to address these inequities.

March 24, 2022. 32:14 min.

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Season 4, Episode 4: Dead Ideas About Anti-Racist Pedagogy with Frank Tuitt

What is anti-racist pedagogy and how is it different than inclusive teaching? Is it a new pedagogy? How can instructors enact anti-racist practices in the classroom, and what structural changes should universities make to support these efforts? In today’s episode, Frank Tuitt, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Connecticut, helps us answer these questions. Dr. Tuitt also shares his own journey in the work of anti-racist pedagogy, as well as the dead ideas he has encountered along the way, and what keeps him inspired and motivated to believe in the possibility of change.

March 10, 2022. 30:35 min.

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Season 4, Episode 3: Teaching Development at Its Best: A Graduate Student Reflects

Columbia University graduate student, Aleksandra Jakubczak, shares her reflections on her journey to become a more informed and confident teacher, and how that journey took her so much further than she initially expected! Listen to find out what changed in her teaching, but also discover how her engagement with the Columbia CTL’s Teaching Development Program changed her conception of teaching and its place in her career—exactly the kind of change called for and highlighted in Beth McMurtrie’s article, “The Damaging Myth of the Natural Teacher (our previous episode).

Resource: Read more about the CTL’s Teaching Development Program (TDP).

February 24, 2022. 27:51 min.

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Season 4, Episode 2: The Damaging Myth of the Natural Teacher: The Story Behind The Story with Beth McMurtrie

In October 2021, Beth McMurtrie, senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, wrote an article titled “The Damaging Myth of the Natural Teacher”. The piece explores how, despite decades of research showing otherwise, teaching is often considered an innate talent rather than a skill that can be learned. The article highlights how damaging this belief is for professors, students, and higher education in general. In today’s episode, Beth shares how and why she wrote this article, and discusses the cultural, structural, and economic reasons that the “teaching as an art” myth persists in the academy. 

Resource: “The Damaging Myth of the Natural Teacher” by Beth McMurtrie, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 20, 2021

February 10, 2022. 29:51 min.

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Season 4, Episode 1: Speaking from the Heart: An Instructor and Her Student Reflect with Dr. Karen Phillips and Yarin Reindorp

Today we speak with Yarin Reindorp, a junior in Columbia’s School of General Studies, and her former teacher in organic chemistry, Dr. Karen Phillips, who was a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Chemistry at Columbia. Dr. Phillips shares teaching techniques and philosophies that she employs in her courses—techniques that tackle dead ideas about collaboration, student empowerment, and equity. Yarin, who also serves as a student consultant for the Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning, then discusses her experience as a student in Dr. Phillips’ course and the profound impact it had on her learning. 

February 3, 2022. 40:00 min.

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Season 3, Episode 6: The Power of Blended Classrooms with Denise Cruz

In 2020, Denise Cruz, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, worked with the CTL through a Provost’s Innovative Course Design Grant to transform her large lecture course in Asian American Literature into a blended format. Today, we speak with Denise about the profound impact the new course format has had on student engagement, motivation, and collaboration in her class, and the dead ideas in teaching that she confronted as she designed and taught it. Spoiler alert: the redesign was so successful that Dr. Cruz was awarded both the Presidential Teaching Award and Mark Van Doren Teaching Award

Resource: Denise Cruz presents her course redesign project at Columbia’s 2021 Celebration of Teaching and Learning Symposium.

December 2, 2021. 36:13 min.

Transcript

This is the final episode of Season 3 of Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning. We’ll be back with Season 4 in the Spring semester. Thank you so much for listening! 

Season 3, Episode 5: Learning Innovation and the Future of Higher Education with Joshua Kim and Edward Maloney

Today we speak with Joshua Kim, Director of Online Programs and Strategy at Dartmouth College, and Edward Maloney, Executive Director of The Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship at Georgetown University. In their recent book Learning Innovation and the Future of Higher Education (2020), Drs. Kim and Maloney write “We have no shortage of knowledge about how learning works and how this knowledge can be applied to advance teaching. What we lack is an understanding of the conditions in which learning science propagates through institutions to change organizational structures and teaching practices.” 

In this episode, Josh and Eddie discuss the disconnect between many institutions’ mission and the work of innovating teaching and learning, as well as the need for an institutional-wide strategy to implement such innovations. They suggest steps for how those in higher education leadership can think about systemic changes that would help higher education teaching and learning evolve over time for changing workforces, demographics, and environments.

November 18, 2021. 39:25 min.

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Season 3, Episode 4: Convergent Teaching with Aaron Pallas and Anna Neumann 

While much public discourse argues over the value and the future of higher education—whether it really “pays off” or how we can leverage technological tools and big data—what’s often missing from the conversation is the importance of good teaching. Aaron Pallas and Anna Neumann, professors of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, believe that good college teaching matters—so much so that they wrote a book about it! In today’s podcast episode, Drs. Pallas and Neumann discuss their book Convergent Teaching (2019) and share three pedagogical moves to convergent teaching, as well as dead ideas that it debunks.

Resource: Convergent Teaching (2019) by Aaron Pallas and Anna Neumann

November 4, 2021. 38:19 min.

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Season 3, Episode 3: Dead Ideas in Faculty Evaluation with Kevin Gannon

In today’s episode, Kevin Gannon, a Professor of History and Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Grand View University, discusses how the pandemic has highlighted “bedrock” flaws in higher education systems, including in faculty evaluation processes. These flaws, based on dead ideas such as emphasizing equality rather than equity, disproportionately affect marginalized groups. Dr. Gannon elaborates on the destructive potential of returning “back to normal” in these systems after the pandemic, and offers steps that faculty can take to best move forward. Gannon, author of the book Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto (2020), also shares what keeps him inspired and why he believes we should remain hopeful about the future of higher education.

October 21, 2021. 31:45 min.

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Season 3, Episode 2: Why Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice, and Liberation Is the Future of Higher Education: A Conversation with Laura I. Rendón

Today we speak with renowned teaching and learning theorist and thought leader Laura I. Rendón, a Professor Emerita at the University of Texas-San Antonio and author of the book Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation (2009). 

As the pandemic nears its end, Dr. Rendón believes we are now in “nepantla”, or a liminal space of inquiry and possibility, regarding the future of higher education. As we return to campuses and classrooms, we need to deeply question what “normal” should be and make sure our pedagogical choices offer a “better” normal for all students, and especially for underserved populations. We need to ask ourselves what kind of an education students now need to help society and to solve our complex problems. We should be mindful of centering equity and inclusion in all of the learning experiences that students encounter.

Dr. Rendón discusses some of the entrenched beliefs that dictate the current culture of teaching and learning, and how they could be shifted to embrace a new vision of higher education.

October 7, 2021. 42:20 min.

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Season 3, Episode 1: Why Dead Ideas? A Conversation with Host Catherine Ross and Ian Althouse

We begin this season by turning the conversation around: our guest today is Catherine Ross, Executive Director of the Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning, and host of Dead Ideas. Interviewed by Ian Althouse, Senior Assistant Director at the Columbia CTL, Catherine shares why she decided to start this podcast—including her own “aha” moment—and what motivates and inspires her to continue the work of unpacking implicit assumptions in teaching and learning in higher education. Catherine also gives listeners a sneak peek of this season’s upcoming guests.

September 23, 2021. 29:17 min.

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Season 2, Episode 7: One Year Later: Learning in a Pandemic with Two Columbia Undergraduate Students

In May 2020, two months after Columbia transitioned to fully remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we interviewed four Columbia undergrads about their experiences. Now almost a full year out, we wanted to check in again on the student experience and identify what dead ideas have surfaced in this extended period of disruption. In this episode, we speak with Sajan Bar, a junior in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Michelle Yao, a junior in Columbia College, who both serve as undergraduate teaching and learning consultants as part of the CTL’s Students as Pedagogical Partners initiative. They discuss community building, study practices, and grading and assessment, and share what they hope will remain and what will be left behind as we move towards more face-to-face settings.

April 22, 2021. 36:59 min.

Transcript

Resource:

  • Resources and reflections developed by the Undergraduate Student Consultants on Teaching and Learning with CTL staff, as part of the Students as Pedagogical Partners initiative

Season 2, Episode 6: Community in Teaching: A Conversation with Columbia Graduate Students Diana Newby, Thomas Preston, and Ami Yoon

In his 1993 article, “Teaching as Community Property: Putting an End to Pedagogical Solitude”, renowned educational psychologist Lee Shulman argued that if teaching were viewed as community property, rather than something that happens behind closed classroom doors, there would be more value placed on teaching and more rigor in the evaluation of teaching. In today’s episode, we unpack this argument and its underlying dead ideas with Columbia doctoral students Thomas Preston, Diana Newby, and Ami Yoon—all who have worked in multiple teaching capacities at Columbia University. They discuss how their experiences have led them to believe that collaboration has a range of benefits in teaching and learning.

April 8, 2021. 34:32 min.

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Resource: “Teaching as Community Property: Putting an End to Pedagogical Solitude” (1993) by Lee Shulman

Student bios:

  • Thomas Preston is a PhD candidate in the German department. He held a Teaching Observation Fellowship at the Columbia Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) in 2019 and since 2020 he has worked there as a teaching consultant. 
  • Diana Newby is a PhD candidate in English & Comparative Literature. She has held multiple fellowships at the CTL, and in 2020 she received one of Columbia’s Presidential Awards for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student. Along with Ami Yoon, she is a co-founder of the Columbia English Department’s Pedagogy Colloquium.
  • Ami Yoon is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and a current Lead Teaching Fellow at the CTL. She has taught courses in Columbia’s undergraduate college as well as in its School of Professional Studies.
  • See full student bios here

Season 2, Episode 5: What Inclusive Instructors Do with Tracie Marcella Addy, Derek Dube, Khadijah A. Mitchell, and Mallory SoRelle

What are small steps instructors can take to teach inclusively? Where, when, and how should they be implemented? In today’s episode, we chat with the authors of the new book What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching (2021). These experts share approaches to conducting inclusive courses that are student-centered, community-based, and transparent, and discuss why these approaches are important—as well as the dead ideas that they debunk.

March 25, 2021. 41:35 min.

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Season 2, Episode 4: Online Teaching and Learning with Roxanne Russell

What are the benefits of online education? What misconceptions or “dead ideas” do both instructors and students harbor about teaching and learning online? And how can online activities (both synchronous and asynchronous) benefit student engagement, community-building, and inclusion in the classroom? In today’s episode, we speak with Roxanne Russell, Director of Online Education at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, about all things online, including what she has learned from her students and the “aha” moment that inspired her to start her career in online education.

March 11, 2021. 33:25 min.

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Season 2, Episode 3: The Syllabus with William Germano and Kit Nicholls 

What does the syllabus do? Who is it for? Why is it chronically unread? And how can it be written to foster an environment of trust and collaboration in the classroom? William Germano, Professor of English at Cooper Union, and Kit Nicholls, Director of the Center for Writing at Cooper Union, are authors of the book Syllabus: The Remarkable, Unremarkable Document That Changes Everything (2020). In this episode, they tackle these fundamental questions about the syllabus, and discuss how it serves as a starting point for addressing larger dead ideas about teaching, learning, and student engagement.

February 18, 2021. 41:46 min.

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Season 2, Episode 2: Ungrading with Jesse Stommel

Jesse Stommel, co-founder of Hybrid Pedagogy: the journal of critical digital pedagogy and co-author of An Urgency of Teachers: the Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy, has not graded student work—in the traditional sense—in 20 years. Instead, he practices “ungrading”, a word which “…suggests that we need to do intentional, critical work to dismantle traditional and standardized approaches to assessment.” In this episode, Jesse unpacks why he supports ungrading (as well as the dead ideas that it challenges), and explains how it promotes student learning. He also shares steps that listeners can take towards ungrading in their own classrooms.

February 4, 2021. 33:28 min.

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Season 2, Episode 1: Assessment For and As Learning with Jonathan Amiel and Aubrie Swan Sein 

Beginning In 2007, Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons (VP&S) began to radically rethink their curriculum and assessment strategies for first and second year medical students. In today’s episode, we speak with Jonathan (Yoni) Amiel, Interim Co-Vice Dean for Education and Senior Associate Dean for Curricular Affairs at VP&S, and Aubrie Swan Sein, Director of the Center for Education Research and Evaluation and Associate Professor of Educational Assessment at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Jonathan and Aubrie discuss the changes they have implemented and the dead ideas they have encountered— especially around assessment—and how things have turned out thus far. 

January 21, 2021. 36:24 min.

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Dead Ideas: Season Two Trailer

Welcome back to Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning. When we began this podcast, our mission was to encourage instructors, students, and leaders in higher education to reflect on what they believe about teaching and learning. Now, almost a year into the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it remains a difficult, uncertain moment for higher education. But in that uncertainty, we have a profound opportunity to confront the many dead ideas that have been exposed by the move out of our traditional classrooms and to challenge what teaching means and how it happens. This podcast is a space for reflection, transformation, and learning.

January 7, 2021. 2:10 min.

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Bonus Episode with Jenny Davidson: How Much Reading Is Enough?

In this bonus episode, we continue our conversation with Jenny Davidson, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, to tackle the question of how much reading is enough in a literature course. Professor Davidson shares examples of how she balances assignment load with student learning objectives in her literature courses, and how she has had to adjust that balance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

December 17, 2020. 24:24 min.

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Season 1, Episode 5: Dead Ideas in Grading with Jenny Davidson

On March 20, 2020, days after Columbia University transitioned to fully remote teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenny Davidson, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, published an article in The Washington Post titled “Forget distance learning. Just give every student an automatic A.” In this episode, Professor Davidson further discusses why she chose to give all of her students an A in Spring 2020, and why, even outside of a pandemic setting, she has long been resistant to the conventional practices of grading.

December 10, 2020. 31:01 min.

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Season 1, Episode 4: Columbia Undergraduates on Dead Ideas in Learning

In Spring 2020, Columbia students Mae Butler, Haya Ghandour, Jennifer Lee and Kalisa Ndamage served as undergraduate teaching and learning consultants as part of the CTL’s Students as Pedagogical Partners initiative. In this episode, these students share their experiences and perspectives on remote teaching and learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They discuss Columbia’s move to pass/fail grading in the Spring 2020 semester, how we can use technology more intentionally in classrooms, and what they would change if they could reinvent higher education.

November 25, 2020. 24:20 min.

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Resource

  • Resources and reflections developed by the Undergraduate Student Consultants on Teaching and Learning with CTL staff, as part of the Students as Pedagogical Partners initiative

Season 1, Episode 3: Dead Ideas in Science Teaching with Carl Wieman 

Carl Wieman, Nobel laureate and Professor of Physics and Education at Stanford University, has dedicated much of his career to addressing the problems and challenges of how universities teach science. In this episode, Wieman imparts the “aha!” moment that motivated his transition from physics research to science education research. He also shares dead ideas that he encounters routinely in science teaching, including those that are magnified by the shift to remote teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

November 12, 2020. 24:42 min.

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Season 1, Episode 2: Neuromyths in Teaching and Learning with Michelle Miller 

Do we really only use 10% of our brains? Will using technology in my course improve my students’ learning and motivation? Are students nowadays “digital natives”? In this episode, we tackle these questions and others with Michelle Miller, Professor of Psychology at Northern Arizona University and author of Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology. Miller talks about her research and experiences with misconceptions about the mind, brain, and learning, with a focus on neuromyths related to teaching with technology.

October 29, 2020. 24:58 min.

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Season 1, Episode 1: The Tyranny of Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning with Diane Pike

In our first episode, Diane Pike, Professor of Sociology at Augsburg University, discusses her motivation to write the article “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning”, which serves as the foundation of this podcast. Pike shares “light bulb” teaching moments from her career as well as how her thinking around “dead ideas” has evolved in the past 10 years since the article’s publication. 

October 15, 2020. 24:20 min.

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Trailer: Introducing Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning

Welcome to Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning, a new podcast hosted by CTL executive director, Catherine Ross. Our mission is to encourage instructors, students, and leaders in higher education to reflect on what they believe about teaching and learning. In each episode, guests are invited to share their discoveries of “dead ideas”—ideas that are not true but that are often widely believed and embedded in the pedagogical choices we make.

October 14, 2020. 3:49 min.

Transcript