Author:
Beth Powers
Subject:
Philosophy, Education, Higher Education
Material Type:
Assessment, Homework/Assignment
Level:
College / Upper Division
Tags:
  • Teaching
  • Teaching Activities
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Language:
    English

    Creating a Pedagogical Philosophy with Students in Higher Education

    Creating a Pedagogical Philosophy with Students in Higher Education

    Overview

    A pedagogical philosophy, also known as an educational philosophy or teaching philosophy, is a set of beliefs, values, and principles that guide an educator's approach to teaching and learning. It encompasses their views on the nature of education, the role of the teacher, the purpose of schooling, and how students learn best. A pedagogical philosophy serves as a foundation for an educator's instructional decisions, strategies, and interactions with students. Pedagogical philosophies can vary widely, as they are influenced by different educational theories, cultural contexts, and personal experiences. Using the stpes provided here, instructors can help their students to create their own pedagogical philsophy which has several benefits Including: a) critically reflecting on their own ideals, b) creating a valuable resource to include in their teaching portfolios. 

    Creating a Pedagogical Philosophy with Students in Higher Education

    A pedagogical philosophy, also known as an educational philosophy or teaching philosophy, is a set of beliefs, values, and principles that guide an educator's approach to teaching and learning. It encompasses their views on the nature of education, the role of the teacher, the purpose of schooling, and how students learn best. A pedagogical philosophy serves as a foundation for an educator's instructional decisions, strategies, and interactions with students. While this resource focuses on an educational – pedagogical philosophy, instructors in other fields can tweak the steps involved to work toward a professional philosophy by implementing the same steps outlined here and using key position statements and research from their own fields.

    Students often are asked to discuss what their core beliefs are in a coherent and specific manner. Education is guided by a code of ethics and has been informed by both innovations in the field and seminal works. However, students often struggle with where to start and how to frame their key ideas. This project scaffolds students' critical thinking and reflection on their core beliefs of their field and how to apply these ideas. It gives them the opportunity to connect research, theory, and practice. This material provides a step-by-step guide to help students to engage in creating a scholarly, concise, and descriptive personal

    Pedagogical philosophies can vary widely, as they are influenced by different educational theories, cultural contexts, and personal experiences. Here are some common philosophies:

    1. Essentialism: Essentialist philosophy emphasizes the transmission of essential knowledge and skills to students. It emphasizes a core curriculum, traditional teaching methods, and a focus on discipline, order, and academic rigor.
    2. Progressivism: Progressivist philosophy promotes active learning, student-centered approaches, and hands-on experiences. It emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, and the integration of real-world contexts into the curriculum.
    3. Constructivism: Constructivist philosophy emphasizes that learners actively construct knowledge through their experiences and interactions with the world. It encourages student engagement, inquiry-based learning, and the construction of meaning through reflection and collaboration.
    4. Behaviorism: Behaviorist philosophy focuses on observable behaviors and external stimuli. It emphasizes the use of rewards and punishments to shape student behavior, repetition, and reinforcement of desired learning outcomes.
    5. Humanism: Humanistic philosophy places value on the holistic development of students, focusing on their emotional, social, and personal growth. It emphasizes creating a positive and supportive learning environment, fostering students' self-esteem, and addressing their individual needs.
    6. Social Reconstructionism: Social reconstructionist philosophy views education as a means for social change and transformation. It emphasizes critical reflection, social justice, and addressing societal issues through education to create a more equitable and democratic society.
    7. Curriculum Models
      1. Montessori: The Montessori philosophy emphasizes individualized, self-directed learning. It encourages students' independence, freedom within limits, and the use of specially designed materials to promote sensory and experiential learning.
      2. Waldorf: The Waldorf (A.K.A. Steiner Approach) emphasizes child development, the arts, and practical skills. The curriculum is student centered and focused on the “incarnating” – developing – child.
      3. Reggio Emilia (A.K.A. Malaguzzi Approach) is a child centered approach that emphasizes play and engaged learning. They also focus on environment as a third teacher, project-based learning, and arts-based engagements.

    (For more information see: https://www.educationcorner.com/learning-theories-in-education/ and https://www.ourkids.net/school/montessori-vs-waldorf-reggio-emilia)

    It's important to note that many educators draw upon multiple pedagogical philosophies, integrating various approaches based on their own beliefs and the needs of their students. A pedagogical philosophy is not a rigid set of rules but rather a framework that guides an educator's teaching practices and decision-making processes. Writing a pedagogical philosophy for higher education classes involves reflecting on one’s beliefs and values as an educator, considering the unique context of education, and articulating one’s approach to teaching and learning.

    In my classes, most of which are for advanced undergraduates and masters’ students, I have found that my students have likely been asked to write a philosophy and describe their beliefs, but most haven’t been given specific resources to reflect on. For example, in my class students have a difficult time reflecting on their educational inspirations. So, we start our conversations with a prompt “What makes a good teacher great?” Students engage in a free write on this topic. Some of my students have shared what “great teachers do”. Some students share “what great teachers shouldn’t do. Most of the students discuss how these teachers made them feel.

    After we engage in this conversation, I ask students to write about who their “educational gurus” are. This is a prompt I borrow from my colleague Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, Associate Professor of Libraries at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. An educational guru can be someone who they aspire to be like, their former teacher or a relative who is a teacher, but I also ask the students to pick leaders in our field to start considering seminal theories as a model for their own. Often my students select developmental psychologists such as Piaget or Vygotsky. Others focus on socio-cultural scholars including Geneva Gay or Gloria Ladson-Billings. Some select scholars from multiple fields. My priority as an instructor is to focus not as much who they choose as how they describe and apply key ideas. In order to develop these ideas, I find it important to give students the opportunity to create multiple drafts and not only receive feedback from me but also to glean feedback from their peers and other professionals.

    After students select their “gurus” I ask them to critically reflect on their ideas regarding key position statements from the professional organization that accredits our programs. These documents include a) the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct, b)the NAEYC Position Statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice, and c) the NAEYC Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education Position Statement. We critically analyze these pieces together and discuss both their strengths and areas in need of improvement. Then we select specific elements of the statements that we relate to and incorporate them into our own pedagogical philosophies.

    As we are reviewing and revisiting our drafts, I ask students to incorporate practical examples that relate to their ideas both from observations in their field placements and other educational contexts.  I also ask students to find at least two peer reviewed articles that relate to their ideas so that they can learn to find, review, and apply high quality peer reviewed resources. The final step involves creating a summarizing conclusion.

    When writing a professional philosophy with college students, you're asking them to articulate their beliefs and approach as a professional who supports and engages with students. Some steps to guide you through the process include:

    1. Reflect on one’s role as a professional: Consider your specific role and responsibilities in teaching and learning. Reflect on the unique aspects of your position and how it shapes your interactions with students.
    2. Identify core values: Think about your core values as a professional What principles guide your work? Do you value student empowerment, academic excellence, holistic development, inclusivity, and/or student autonomy? Identify the key values that drive your practice.
    3. Consider the needs of students or those who you will serve: Reflect on the characteristics, challenges, and needs of students. Consider factors such as their transition to higher education, academic pressures, personal growth, career development, and cultural diversity. How will you address these needs and provide support?
    4. Emphasize student-centeredness: Students are in a period of personal and intellectual growth. Articulate how you prioritize the needs, aspirations, and success of students in your professional philosophy. Discuss how you will create an inclusive, supportive, and empowering environment that fosters their academic, personal, and professional development.
    5. Promote holistic development: Recognize that children are multifaceted individuals with diverse interests, talents, and challenges. Highlight your commitment to supporting their holistic development by addressing their intellectual, social, emotional, and career needs. Consider how you will facilitate well-rounded growth and help students navigate challenges.
    6. Share your approach and strategies: Describe the specific strategies, methodologies, or interventions you employ to support students. Discuss how you will provide guidance, mentorship, or resources to help them succeed academically and personally. Highlight your commitment to evidence-based practices and ongoing professional development.
    7. Cultivate partnerships and collaboration: Acknowledge the importance of collaboration and partnerships in supporting students. Discuss how you will collaborate with other professionals, faculty members, student organizations, and community stakeholders to enhance the student experience. Emphasize your commitment to building effective networks of support.
    8. Emphasize ethical practice: Discuss the ethical principles that guide your work. This may include maintaining confidentiality, respecting student autonomy and diversity, upholding professional standards, and adhering to ethical codes of conduct. Highlight your commitment to ethical practice and creating a safe and inclusive environment for students.
    9. Use clear and concise language: Write your professional philosophy using clear and concise language. Use concrete examples, anecdotes, or case studies to illustrate your points and demonstrate how you put your philosophy into action. Ensure your writing is easily understandable and accessible to a wide range of readers.
    10. Revise and refine: After drafting your professional philosophy, revise and refine it to ensure clarity, coherence, and alignment with your beliefs and goals. Seek feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors to further strengthen your document.

    A professional philosophy is a dynamic document that evolves as one grows and gains experience. It’s important for professionals to regularly reflect on their practice, update their philosophy accordingly, and revisit it periodically to ensure it aligns with an evolving professional journey.

    Cover photo attribution: https://pixabay.com/photos/hands-world-map-global-earth-600497/

    REsources:

    How to Write Your Philosophy of Education

    https://www.colorado.edu/career/2021/07/13/how-write-your-philosophy-education-statement