Charlie Clarke, a Finance PhD student at UConn, and a loyal MR reader, writes to me:
I’m a grad student teaching for the first time, and I was wondering if you had any recommendations for a book relaying evidence based advice for teaching methods. I know Cowen’s law, “There is a literature on everything.” Just hoping there is a good book or two synthesizing that literature so that I can use it to improve my teaching.
Love the blog.
The most important lesson is to use the right textbook. Beyond that:
1. Give a damn.
2. Get to the point when you speak.
3. Expect something from them.
4. Teach to the students who are interested in learning.
5. At all levels, do not overestimate the attention span of your audience.
6. Do not be afraid to be idiosyncratic, provided you adhere strictly to #2.
Those are my tips. But to be honest, I do not consider them RCT-tested and I am not sure they maximize social welfare. They instead start from the premise that the key question is what kind of person do I want to be, and then the method asks the students to conform to that vision. Some or all of them might prove RCT-neutral, or worse. Nonetheless, the approach is a good way to motivate me and that is part of the problem.
Doesn’t Bryan Caplan have a post on this? Here is John Baez on how to teach. Peoples, what can you recommend from the literature?