Research on Teaching Offers No Blueprints, Only Maps

Good metaphor explains both the importance of scholarship and expertise of teachers.

Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed.

Photo of Blueprint by Erich Stüssi

I sense that some teachers feel that the research on teaching and those who reference it want to tell them how to teach. Understandably, this creates apprehension and resistance toward the research. But I want to clarify that that’s not how the research works, unless it is not very good research. And it’s not how anyone discussing the research should work either. If anyone tells you exactly how to teach based on research, they’re misusing the research.

The research does not offer blueprints for how to teach. It does not provide detailed instructions on what to do and how to do it. It does not guarantee that precisely following said instructions will get you the desired results. There’s no wrap the green wire around the blue post.

Of course, the research on teaching does make claims and recommendations, varying in strength from tentatively suggesting to strongly suggesting. But that’s not the same as…

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