Teaching Resources Round-Up

At the most recent annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Denver, I presented on and attended several panels focused on teaching-related issues, and at multiple events, colleagues mentioned that it’s difficult to find any “go-to” resources for teaching in anthropology. For this post, I’ve gathered some of my favorite materials. I focus mostly on web resources—this is not an exhaustive review, but these are the blogs I follow, sites I visit regularly, and venues for sharing resources with other anthropologists that I’ve found to be especially useful. I include some general resources on teaching and learning in higher education, some discipline-specific resources for teaching (especially cultural) anthropology, and a couple of my favorite resources for everyday lecture and discussion materials.

General Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a cross-disciplinary effort to research, reflect on, and promote teaching strategies and techniques that effectively support student learning. While there is often an overlap with work on K-12 pedagogy, a significant focus is on higher education and adult learning. Helpful overviews of the field are available from Michigan State University or Illinois State University’s SoTL site. The blog Teaching and Learning in Higher Ed also offers good introductory reading lists. If you’re not up for additional reading at the moment, check out Bonni Stachowiak’s podcast Teaching in Higher Ed, where you can hear interviews with central SoTL figures (for example, Ken Bain, author of What the Best College Professors Do) as well as discussions of significant issues like course development, universal design, grading, course evaluations, and insights from cognitive science on how we learn.

Several online journals and websites share teaching strategies and reflections from college instructors in many disciplines. These include Faculty Focus (check out Maryellen Weimer’s list of articles for becoming a better teacher); Hybrid Pedagogy (Kris Shaffer’s open letter to students is one notable post); Pedagogy Unbound (not sure what to do on the first day of class?); and the Chronicle of Higher Education (see James Lang’s recommendations for the top 10 books on teaching).

Anthropology Resources

Anthropology-specific teaching resources include a number of significant books and journals. Strategies in Teaching Anthropology was published in six volumes between 2000 and 2010 and is now available online through Pearson. Most of the nearly 200 strategies focus on in-class activities for introductory courses across the four main subfields. The peer-reviewed Teaching Anthropology journal is published twice a year by the Royal Anthropological Institute and includes reflections on and evaluations of anthropological pedagogies and the ways in which teaching can contribute to disciplinary knowledge. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, published by the Council on Anthropology and Education, is less focused on the teaching of anthropology, but is concerned with research that promotes social justice in all areas of education.

Many anthropology professional organizations also focus on teaching issues. In addition to the Society for Cultural Anthropology’s Teaching Tools, both the General Anthropology Division (GAD) and the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC) host teaching-related websites and blogs. GAD’s Teaching Anthropology Interest Group (TAIG) launched the Teaching Anthropology Blog two years ago and continues to seek posts from guest bloggers. Be on the lookout, also, for TAIG-sponsored teaching-related panels and workshops at the 2016 AAA meeting. SACC is engaged in several activities of interest to anthropology instructors at all levels of higher ed. They are currently in the process of relaunching their journal, Teaching Anthropology, as an online publication and are finalizing the publication of an open access Cultural Anthropology textbook that will be free for students. Chapters include “What is Anthropology” (Laura Nader), “Culture and Sustainability” (Christian Palmer), “Performance” (Lauren Miller Griffith and Jonathan Marion), and “Public Anthropology” (Robert Borofsky), among other classic themes. Look for this book to be available online in early 2017. Outside of the AAA, the European Association of Social Anthropology’s Teaching Anthropology Network organizes events and publicizes resources that may be of particular interest to teachers of anthropology in Europe.

Additional notable teaching-focused sites include the following: Jason Antrosio’s Living Anthropologically, which began as a supplement to introductory anthropology courses, addresses a variety of issues of anthropological and public concern, and many of his posts are designed to be integrated with popular textbooks. The Anthropology Teaching Forum (ATF) is organized by faculty and graduate students in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at San Antonio; the forum hosts monthly meetings and workshops on anthropology pedagogy. ATF meeting recaps are posted on their site and included in the University of Toronto Press’s Teaching Culture blog, which is a significant contributor to pedagogical conversations in its own right. General and sub-field specific anthropology blogs like Savage Minds or Somatosphere (I’m a medical anthropologist, so this is one I read regularly) often share syllabuses, pedagogical materials, and teaching-related reflections, and although the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s Sapiens just launched, I’ve already bookmarked several articles for possible use in future classes.

But What Will I Do in Class Tomorrow?

On a day-to-day basis, one of the greatest challenges of either teaching or research is managing the materials, notes, and thoughts that we want to keep for further consideration. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to start a repository of articles, books, news stories, videos, sample syllabuses, or teaching ideas that relate to courses you are either currently teaching or may teach in the future. (There are many digital data management tools available, but I currently use Evernote for this purpose.) Whenever I sit down to plan or update individual lectures, discussions, or class activities, this collection is one of the first resources I turn to.

Finally, Sociological Images, started by Lisa Wade, is one of the most frequent sources of the images or videos I’ve saved in my teaching files. The site has a sociological (and often US-focused) bent, but features original blog posts, cross-posted content, commentaries, and teaching essays that can be helpful in classes across the social sciences. (They also have great Pinterest collections. Just this week I was looking for examples of pointlessly gendered products for a lecture.)

Are there other favorite resources that you’ve found to be useful? Please share in the comments!