Pedagogical Approaches

Overview and Key Principles

Background

This guidebook has been developed from a gender and sexuality studies approach to pedagogy. Faculty using this guidebook may come from a wide array of expertise across disciplines and interdisciplinary fields of study, including the social sciences, humanities, fine arts, legal studies, education, health sciences, etc. Readers from STEM and other disciplines may find sections of this guidebook helpful for their teaching as well; although many of the techniques and strategies discussed are designed for classrooms which include class discussion and activities.

This poses several challenges for establishing norms around pedagogical approaches, including:

  1. The methods and theories across disciplines vary and can be contradictory;
  2. Training in pedagogies and classroom approaches are uneven across fields; and
  3. The increasing workloads of post-secondary education teaching (part-time/contract/precarious teaching, larger class sizes, less TA support, insufficient hiring in permanent positions, etc.) make it difficult for faculty to follow and incorporate new pedagogies in the classroom.

This document aims to provide some points of entry and practical techniques to help support faculty adapt their teaching to meet the needs of our students and facilitate our roles as teachers. This means you should use this guidebook as a way to come up with techniques that work for you and your own teaching.


Adaptive and Popular Education Strategies for Pedagogy

In part, many of the strategies outlined in this guidebook emerge from popular education, such as techniques that have been translated from social movements and community-organizing settings. These strategies may be techniques you already include in your teaching, and some may be new. Use the materials, tools, techniques, debates, and resources within as a set of anchors for your own navigation and approach to teaching rather than a set of rules to follow.


Core Principles in Gender and Sexuality Pedagogy

While the majority of the chapters include specific examples and debates relating to teaching practices and navigating classroom dynamics in a gender and sexuality studies classroom context, there are several core principles that guide the approaches outlined throughout that may be relevant across fields and disciplines. These include reflexive teaching and learning (Boler 1999; Brookfield 2017; Kumashiro 2000), modelling engagement, and developing effective feedback and accountability (Russo 2019). In addition to the above approaches, readers may be interested in other related pedagogical approaches and materials, including Inclusive Pedagogies (Page 2021), and “resilient pedagogy and self-determination” (Masland 2021).

Below is a brief explanation of what these principles might look like for faculty and students, followed by a few examples to illustrate them (please note that this list is not exhaustive).

Reflexive Teaching and Learning:

Faculty
Students
Examples

Faculty

Thinking carefully about our pedagogical choices and how these might impact student learning, reflecting on classroom dynamics and behaviour, self-observing and adjusting in response to classroom dynamics.

Students

Fostering self-reflection and adjustment rather than self-criticism, encouraging self-driven learning skills development rather than testing knowledge accumulation, and focusing on revision rather than perfection.

Examples

  • Soliciting student feedback through dialogue with students and techniques such as pre-course and mid-term surveys to adjust course content, delivery and methods.
  • Using assessment of student assignments to revisit and revise evaluation methods.
  • Seeking additional resources, support, advice, and insights into teaching strategies when challenges in the classroom arise.
  • Using varied or multiple approaches to delivering course material and assessing student learning allows for flexibility and accommodation.

Modelling Engagement:

Faculty
Students
Examples

Faculty

Fostering collaboration with students by helping to guide and model the terms of classroom engagement, using respectful and validating language, modelling apology and accountability when mistakes are made, and taking responsibility for guiding classroom engagement.

Students

Developing skills for self-advocacy, fostering collaboration over competition, and developing respectful and collaborative communication skills.

Examples

  • Working with students to develop shared classroom cultural norms, codes of conduct, classroom contracts, and other tools that encourage collective contributions to establishing classroom dynamics.
  • Classroom activities and exercises that model and allow students to practice working through conflict, recognize their role in fostering classroom culture, and communicate constructive feedback over individualized criticism.
  • Helping to recognize the complex experiences that shape classroom behaviour by trying to understand how external factors can impact both students and faculty in the classroom.

Feedback and Accountability:

Faculty
Students
Examples

Faculty

Thinking carefully about our pedagogical choices and how they might impact student learning, integrating regular feedback to help build and adjust teaching, modelling mutual and reciprocal accountability among students and professors, following up after feedback is received, and making transparent how agency and power relations shape the classroom.

Students

Developing skills at communicating in ways that foster mutual understanding, managing expectations of others, self-monitoring behaviour and adjusting actions as part of accountability, fostering accountability among peers through support rather than scarcity or competition.

Examples

  • Soliciting feedback by talking with students and putting feedback into practice through concrete actions that are shared with the class
  • In conflicts, focusing on responding through acknowledgment, providing concrete plans for changes or adjustments, and avoiding self-defensive justifications.
  • Using pre-course, mid-term, and end-of-term surveys and feedback to solicit anonymous or confidential feedback on both student experiences and expectations with the class, but also with their peers and themselves.
  • Structuring assignments that encourage peer collaboration rather than punish the group or individual students when others participate unevenly.
  • Incorporating peer-learning skills into assessment models beyond the class presentation, such as through peer teaching, skill-sharing, peer feedback and revision, and task delegation.

Resources

Pedagogical Approaches Resources

Access to this chapter’s Zotero

Atom Fire Arts Cooperative. 2020. How to Share Space: Creating Community in Classrooms and Beyond. Building Accountable Communities Project (Project NIA).
Boler, Megan. 1999. Feeling Power: Emotions and Education. New York: Routledge.
Brookfield, Stephen. 2017. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. Second ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Brand.
Kumashiro, Kevin. N.d. “Toward a Theory of Anti-Oppressive Education.” Review of Educational Research 70 (1): 25-53.
Masland. 2021. “Resilient Pedagogy and Self-Determination: Unlocking Student Engagement in Uncertain Times.” In Resilient Pedagogy: Practical Teaching Strategies to Overcome Distance, Disruption, and Distraction. Edited by Travis N. Thurston, Kacy Lundstrom, and Christopher Conzález. Utah State University.
Mingus, Mia. 2019. The Four Parts of Accountability: How to Give a Genuine Apology. Western University.
Page, Christina. 2021. Inclusive Pedagogies. Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Russo, Ann. Feminist Accountability: Disrupting Violence and Transforming Power. New York: NYU Press. Western University. Getting Feedback on Teaching.

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Better Practices in the Classroom by Natalie Kouri-Towe and Myloe Martel-Perry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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