New teaching book focuses on student engagement

David Gooblar released a new book to promote student-centered classrooms and teaching.

David Gooblar, associate director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, sits in his office at the TECH Center on Sept. 4. | JEREMY ELVAS / ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR

Before teaching his first class of undergraduate students in 2004, the only instruction David Gooblar got was “no matter how little you know, [your students] know less.” 

The teaching advice did not sit well with Gooblar, who at the time, was an english graduate student at University College London. Ever since, he’s been determined to create student-centered classrooms where professors focus on students’ learning rather than spouting information at them.

Gooblar, associate director of Temple’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT), published his book, “The Missing Course: Everything They Didn’t Teach You About Pedagogy in Graduate School,” on Aug. 20. His book is a message to professors, offering a variety of teaching methods that focus on actively engaging students as the center of the classroom.

“Good teaching is much more than a collection of effective tips, it’s changing your mindset,” Gooblar said. 

When starting out teaching, Gooblar said he noticed professors were ill-prepared to teach and forgot that teaching is about helping students develop. He added that it’s not how the professor’s lecture but how the students learn.

“Teaching has to start with the students,” he said. “Students learn best when they learn for themselves.”

One tip Gooblar suggests is to call on students to answer questions, even when they don’t volunteer. Getting the students talking is just one way to get them engaged, he added.

“The Missing Course” also encourages professors to set plans on what they hope to achieve in the classroom, while also catering it toward their students’ needs. 

Gooblar worked as a professor in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of Iowa since 2015. In May, he joined CAT to work on improving teaching at and increasing classroom student success at Temple. At CAT, he meets with professors one-on-one to discuss their teaching and also facilitates workshops with professors and faculty. 

“Faculty are experts in their field, but they don’t really often receive training on how to teach in graduate school,”  said Stephanie Laggini Fiore, the assistant vice provost of CAT. 

Fiore said that Gooblar’s book accurately addresses the student-centered teaching Temple hopes to promote. 

The Center helps faculty improve their teaching through evidence-based teaching tactics, educational technology, seminars and workshops as well as individual faculty consultations, Fiore said. She said that the center hopes to use the research they conduct to inform teaching on campus, she added.

Sarah Bridgeport, a senior English and creative writing major at the University of Iowa, took Gooblar’s rhetoric course her freshman year and said she noticed his dedication toward active student engagement.

“That love for English that I have was encouraged and fostered in such an environment that let me sharpen that enthusiasm,” she said. 

The way Gooblar structured his class encouraged every student to participate, she added.

While in his class, Gooblar had Bridgeport read a children’s book in front of the class for an assignment. The first time she read, Gooblar noticed she had a tendency to look at the ceiling while reading aloud. He had her read it to the class again, purposely looking at the ceiling while reading it a second time, she added.

The exercise was meant to demonstrate that in order to become a better speaker, she had to face her weakness head on, Bridgeport said. 

“It gave us the understanding to improve upon ourselves and that it wasn’t a bad thing that we had to. I really admire that,” she added.

Gooblar believes teaching is helping another human being develop, an idea he hopes to foster in teaching, he said. Professors need to better help and support students while passing on any expertise, he added.

“Teaching is this incredible human experience. I am going to start where the students are and help them achieve what they hope to achieve,” Gooblar said.

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