Teaching Perspectives Inventory

I teach a first year Biology course for non-majors. It is a very general course with a large volume of information, and for many it may be the only science course they take. My students are typically very new to adult learning.

Considering that, I have wide-ranging goals in the course, something that is reflected in my TPI results. My dominant perspective is Transmission, with Apprenticeship and Development as backup perspectives. Nurturing has a much lower score, and Social Reform is recessive.

With a lot of information to pass along, and little focus on discussing, debating or personal beliefs, Transmission is a primary focus for my teaching. Traditionally, I feel that instructors of a similar subject would approach teaching  from a very dominantly Transmission perspective. My backup perspectives indicate my attempts to do more, and go beyond the knowledge transmission.

The course has a lab component, and I try to make the course as authentic as I can, giving hands-on application and experiments, so that students where possible can do Biology. Herein lies the Apprenticeship perspective (Pratt and Collins, 2000).

The Developmental perspective is about building on and challenging prior knowledge, and encouraging application and deeper understanding (Pratt and Collins, 2000). Some of my students have taken Biology courses in the past, others have not. But everyone has heard things, or made observations about the subject, so they enter the course with certain preconceptions. In some cases these are often incorrect or partially correct (e.g. about evolution or climate change) and I purposely seek to challenge those. I also look to encourage higher order thinking skills that will benefit students in future undergraduate courses. In future I would hope to see a stronger Developmental score as I improve on these skills.

While I do care for my students, and look to develop basic learning skills (Nurturing perspective), these are limited parts of the course I teach. Social Reform is rarely a part of such a course, though I do try to foster some change around conservation and sustainability thinking. This reflects my own bias, but one that i justify as being tied to the subject.

The results of my TPI were not surprising, but interpreting them made me think of the different facets of the course and teaching that are reflected in the results.

Try your own TPI here.


Pratt, Daniel D. and Collins, John B. 2000. The Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI). Adult Education Research Conference. http://newprairiepress.org/aerc/2000/papers/68



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