Fink brings significant learning principles to faculty and students

L. Dee Fink, a national consultant in higher education, re-examined traditional teaching in his lecture “The Joy and Responsibility of Teaching Well” to faculty and students of the College on Wednesday afternoon in Kendall Hall.

“What we’re doing is critically important,” Fink, who earned his doctorate in geography from the University of Chicago in 1976, said.

Fink taught as an adjunct professor of geography at the University of Oklahoma and was the founding director of the school’s Instructional Development Program from 1979 to 2005.

According to Fink, four issues in higher education need to be re-examined: “What we teach, how we teach, how we gear up to teach and who we are.”

Fink said educators “are the most important profession in the 21st Century” because they teach people who can change the world.

A key component of Fink’s higher education principles is the “taxonomy of significant learning.” Fink explained how “learning how to learn, foundational knowledge, caring, application, human dimension (students learning life lessons) and interaction” are intertwined with significant learning.

Fink emphasized fundamentals of teaching, which are “subject matter, interaction, design, learning experience and management of the course.”

According to Fink, a significant learning course allows a student to understand and remember the material, use the content in the real world, relate to the course, have the course affect personal and social events, value information covered in the course and continue learning the subject.

“We’ve got to rethink, as American higher educators, how we gear up as teachers,” Fink said.

He also said if airline reservation agents spend 48 hours on extra training a year, then educators can do the same.

“If the best teachers get better,” Fink said, “you better believe all of us can.”