Teaching

Courses

  • Honours Seminar: Virtue and Its Critics
  • Poverty, Ecology and International Justice
  • The Ethics of Global Conflict
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Ethics, Free Will and Meaning (intro to philosophy)
  • Key Topics in Philosophy (intro to philosophy)
  • Philosophy and Human Nature (intro to philosophy)
  • Introduction to Critical Thinking
  • Philosophical Studies (for medical students)
  • Ethical studies (for medical students)
  • Social Ethics: An Introduction
  • Social Ethics: Life and Death
  • Social Ethics: People and their Institutions
  • Human Rights Theory

Peer Instruction

Since arriving at Monash University in 2011 I have been using the Peer Instruction approach to teaching. It involves stopping every 15-20 minutes during a lecture to ask students a multiple choice question about the day’s material. If the majority of students answer correctly the instructor moves on to a new topic. But if students offer the wrong answer, they are asked to discuss it with a peer and answer again. Invariably students improve their understanding of lecture material, both through explaining it to another student and having it explained to them. My experience to date with Peer Instruction has been highly positive. Overall I have found it to be an effective method of improving student comprehension in an interactive and dynamic manner.

Research on Teaching

I have co-authored a peer-reviewed paper on teaching, originally presented at the Teaching and Learning Forum in Perth, Western Australia.

Lamey, A. (2008). Posner on the Uselessness of Moral Theory. Preparing for the Graduates of 2015. Proceedings of the 17th Annual Teaching and Learning Forum, 30-31 January 2008. Curtin University of Technology, Perth.

Richard Posner has argued that teaching moral philosophy is a misguided and pointless exercise. According to Posner, ethical philosopher exaggerate the role rationality play in moral judgement. As a result, classes on moral philosophy are “useless,” as they invariably fail to influence students’ thoughts or behaviour. We sought to test Posner’s claim by surveying students in two university classes dealing with ethics. Our findings suggest that, contrary to Posner’s suggestion, ethics classes do in fact influence students’ moral thinking, including the judgements they make about particular moral issues. The influence of ethics classes on students’ behaviour was smaller, lending some support to Posner’s view that there is a difference between making a moral judgement and possessing sufficient motivation to act on it. However, the purpose of ethics classes may not be to cause students to embrace a set program of action, but to teach them to think critically about morality. Our evidence suggests ethics clases succeed at this goal, and so are not the arenas of pointless futility that Posner portrays.

Jeopardy!

One of my favourite ways of consolidating student learning is an activity inspired by the game show Jeopardy. Toward the end of semester I divide students into groups which then need to come up with questions about the material the course covered. Students assign these questions a value between 100 and 500 based on the difficulty level, and direct their questions to other groups. Members of the group which correctly answers the most questions win. The game makes for an a high-energy final tutorial that first-year students especially enjoy. By playing Jeopardy students see for themselves how much content they’ve retained, and what they need to review before the exam.

I discovered Jeopardy in the Teaching Assistant Advice Handbook, written by graduate student TAs at the University of California, Davis. It has lots of other good tips for anyone new to teaching.