Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xviii

Authorship is such a troubled concept. Our cultural traditions require a hero, just as our sociopolitical system focuses attention on the lone entrepreneur. Thus, we place a name on the cover of every book and imagine an author, operating in isolation, who brought a set of ideas into existence ex nihilo. But such moments...

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Introduction: An Overview of Decoding the Disciplines

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pp. 1-18

Somewhere in the world at this very moment there is a college class that is not working: an earnest instructor is deeply committed to sharing what makes his or her discipline so compelling, and the class is filled with students who would desperately like to succeed, but the instructor’s words are not connecting. The students...

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1. Finding the Bottleneck

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pp. 19-31

Teaching is, of necessity, a strategic undertaking. Time and resources are limited; they must be focused with precision and skill. To be effective, teachers need to know where and when to intervene. They must have at their disposal an array of effective teaching techniques, but they also need a broad framework to determine...

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2. Decoding the Disciplinary Unconscious

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pp. 32-53

The kinds of bottlenecks discussed in chapter 1 are so ubiquitous that we often treat them as facts of nature that need no explanation. We take it for granted that many students in our classes will have difficulties in learning, but we rarely stop to consider what causes these phenomena—beyond the usual complaints that...

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3. Modeling Operations

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pp. 54-61

In the first step of Decoding the Disciplines we identified those problem areas where learning is not occurring. In the second step we explored the mental operations that students need to master to get past these bottlenecks. These steps focus attention on the places where the decoding process is most needed and define...

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4. Practice and Feedback

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pp. 62-72

Decades of research and millennia of folk wisdom suggest that learning is not complete and permanent until one has had hands-on experience that puts the new knowledge to work. The very existence of play in a broad range of animals reinforces this notion that true learning always includes an active component...

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5. Motivation and Emotional Bottlenecks

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pp. 73-93

Thus far we have been dealing primarily with cognitive bottlenecks—that is, problems that result from the intellectual challenge of adapting to the mental patterns of a discipline. But emotional issues can also frustrate learning. Operating successfully in a decoded class requires a certain level of student motivation...

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6. Assessment

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pp. 94-107

By now it is—or should be—something of a cliché to stress that gaining meaningful evidence about student learning is a prerequisite of good teaching. We are hopefully past the days in which instructors were satisfied that they could assess the success of a course through their interpretation of visual clues from the students...

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7. Sharing

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pp. 108-118

A generation ago, a pedagogical silence smothered innovation in teaching. What happened in the classroom stayed in the classroom. Instructors had to solve the problems that arose in that space on their own, even though colleagues down the hall faced the same challenges. In teaching there was no equivalent to...

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8. The Future of Decoding

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pp. 119-139

If we are to fully live up to our responsibility to the future, we must sometimes allow ourselves to dream. In imagining what might be possible someday, we sometimes discover what needs to be done in the present. Therefore, I invite you to join me in an exploration of the uses to which the Decoding the Disciplines...

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Epilogue

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pp. 140-142

For years I have believed that watching a well-run preschool is one of the best ways to understand how to maximize learning in a college class. Here it is easy to observe in its most basic form the subtle channeling of students’ natural energy, the creation of challenging tasks that carry them to new levels of learning, and...

Notes

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pp. 143-144

References

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pp. 145-154

Index

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pp. 155-159