Philosophy of teaching and learning

A reason to examine philosophies of learning
An instructor’s teaching style is directly related to their philosophy of what it means to know and learn.  The rationale for making particular teaching choices becomes more apparent when new faculty members reflect on what they believe about teaching and learning.  Much of what faculty believe comes from their own experiences as a student, the images of teaching they hold, and their experiences as a teacher.  There is, however, a body of research on teaching and learning that may serve faculty well as they hone their teaching craft.

Philosophies of teaching and learning
Numerous philosophers have studied what it means to teach and learn, and have come up with various explanations of the process of becoming educated.  Faculty begin to refine their own beliefs and understandings of what it means to know through examining numerous theories of knowledge and making sense of the processes of teaching and learning in their own minds.  An few philosophies and examples of individuals who exemplify the concepts are worth exploring: Existentialism (Maxine Greene, Jean-Paul Sartre, Soren Kierkegaard, Simone de Beauvoir), Critical Theory (Karl Marx, Henry Geroux, Michael Apple, Paulo Friere), Behaviorism (B.F. Skinner), Cognitivism / Developmentalism (Maria Montessori, A.S. Neill, John Dewey, Knowles, Waldorf Schools, Reggio Emilia Schools), Social Constructivism (John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner, Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf Schools), Multiple Intelligences (Howard Gardner), Brain based learning (Marian Diamond, Renate and Geoffrey Caine, Thomas Armstrong, Candace Pert, and Eric Jensen).  This is a good starting place from which to explore other philosophies and the individuals who articulate them.

Articulating your philosophy of teaching and learning
New faculty members come to better understand their own philosophy through thinking about what they believe about teaching and learning.  One means of thinking is writing.  New faculty members benefit from taking the time to craft a teaching philosophy statement.  This sort of statement or something like it is often part of an application process for faculty positions, or it is part of graduate studies at many universities.  The clarity that results from crafting such a statement brings to the forefront the way teaching decisions are made, and this self knowledge will be invaluable when undertaking course planning.

Knowledge, Learning Theory and Philosophies

Learning Theories and Philosophies as Applied to Schooling
Turner, G., Foundations Online Learning Community
This table outlines major learning theories and links them to particular disciplines of knowledge.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2005)
This open access source examines the study of knowledge and justified belief,  the nature and structure of knowledge, and its limits.

Epistemology Search
The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University (2009)
Five hundred eleven entries about epistemology provide links to explore various ways of knowing as accumulated by the research lab that constructed the site.

The Epistemology Page
DeRose, K. (2009), Department of Philosophy, Yale University
This professor at Yale has collected resources on epistemology, from simple “what is it” to much more complex resources, sample syllabi, and a blog.

Learning Theories
Boettcher, J.V., Central Virginia Community College
This table summarizes a few of the major learning theories.

Theory of Knowledge Guide
International Baccalaureate Program
This 2008 guide to IB exams on the theories of knowledge outlines background information, questions about ways of knowing, and assessments for understanding the nature of knowledge.

Applied Learning Theory

Newer Views of Learning Index
Owen Wilson, L.  (2005). University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
This retired faculty member has constructed a comprehensive overview of learning theories with lesson plans, models of teaching, and a reflective teacher index.

Instructional Design and Learning Theories
Mergel, B. (1998). University of Saskatchewan
This graduate student created a comprehensive introduction to learning theories.

Fundamentals of Inquiry
Institute for Inquiry. The Exploratorium with support from the National Science Foundation
The institute was developed in 2006 with a major grant from the NSF to create a series of workshops for introducing teachers to inquiry.  Freely available guides provide step-by-step instructions and access to complete materials online.

Experiential Learning and Experiential Education
Neill, J. (2006), psychologist and outdoor educator, University of Canberra, Australia
This overview of experiential learning answers many questions, and provides many links.

Theory of Service Learning
Learn and Serve America’s National Service Learning Clearinghouse
This bibliography provides topical links to online full text items and downloadable PDFs when available.

New Philosophies of Learning
London Knowledge Lab (2009)
Two knowledge lab faculty have chapters in this newly published book addressing technology enhanced learning, both available as articles in the Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 42, Iss. 3-4.  

Articulating a Teaching Philosophy

Sample Teaching Philosophies
Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Central Florida
Award winning UCF faculty members share their teaching philosophies.

Teaching Philosophies: Examples from Penn
Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Pennsylvania
Award winning faculty submitted statements of their teaching philosophies for this webpage.

Writing a Philosophy Statement
How to write a statement of teaching philosophy, Chronicle of Higher Education.

Philosophy of Teaching Statement
Office of Instructional Consultation, University of California Santa Barbara
A list of frequently asked questions borrowed from: Van Note Chism, N. (1998). Developing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement, Essays on Teaching Excellence, Vol. 9, No. 3. Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education.

Exploring your Teaching Philosophy: Sample Exercises
Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo
This site offers several questions, reflections and options to ruminate on before you begin your teaching philosophy statement for an application for a faculty position.

Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement
University Center for the Advancement of Teaching, Ohio State University
Tips for creating a philosophy of teaching statement include purpose, format, samples, components, and links to further references on this site.

Guidance on Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement
Faculty and TA Development, Ohio State University
This site outlines several suggestions for writing a philosophy statement.

Writing Your Teaching Philosophy: A Step By Step Approach
Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Minnesota
This site offers specifics and a process for completing the statement using drafts, and provides some examples.

Teaching Statements
Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University
This comprehensive site about developing teaching statements offers consideration of purpose, components, guidelines, and exercises to get started.

Teaching Styles

Teaching Style Survey
Take this survey and submit it for evaluation to learning about your teaching style.

Teaching the Teachers: Teaching and Learning Online
Burd, B.A. & Buchanan, L.E. (2004). Reference Services Review.
As online learning opportunities increase in today’s society,librarians need to consider additional ways to design online instruction effectively.


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