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The Teach Better Podcast

The Teach Better Podcast is a series of conversations with teachers about teaching. We talk mostly with faculty in higher education, but will occasionally talk with other teachers too. Your hosts are Doug McKee and Edward O’Neill.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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Podcast #19: Teaching CS50 with David J. Malan

Harvard computer science professor David J. Malan is most well-known for his wildly popular introductory computer science class: CS50. In this episode, David tells us all about its inner workings including the role of memorable moments, 20 page problem sets, hackathons, and balloons.

19 Oct 2015

Rank #1

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Podcast #45: Inspiring Students with Steven Strogatz

In this episode Professor Steven Strogatz joins us from the Cornell Math Department. He is a world-renowned mathematician, known primarily for his work in non-linear dynamics and chaos theory, and he is an award-winning author of Sync, The Calculus of Friendship, and the Joy of x. He also happens to be one of the best teachers at Cornell. During our a wide-ranging conversation, Steve talks with us about helping students discover for themselves the joys and frustrations of mathematical thinking.

2 Jan 2017

Rank #2

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Podcast #10: Eight Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

Edward and Doug reflect back to identify eight habits which almost all of our guests have used to teach effectively. If you're new to the podcast, this is a great place to start since it's filled with our favorite quotes from earlier episodes.

15 Jun 2015

Rank #3

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Podcast #3: Student-Centered Learning with Jenny Frederick

We talk with Jenny Frederick from the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning about Student-Centered Learning.

9 Mar 2015

Rank #4

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Podcast #52: Teams and Game Design with Walker White

Walker White has one of the coolest jobs in higher ed. He directs Cornell’s Game Design Initiative, and teaches beginning and advanced game design classes in the computer science department. In this episode we go deep inside Walker's introductory games course for programmers, writers, and artists. He tells us how he organizes his students in heterogeneous teams, gives them copious feedback, and helps each team build a brand new playable game by the end of the semester.

17 Apr 2017

Rank #5

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Podcast #6: What Makes a Great Lecture? with Donald Kagan

We talk with Yale's Donald Kagan about what makes a great lecture and his unique approach to teaching seminars.

20 Apr 2015

Rank #6

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Podcast #72: Course Evaluations with Betsy Barre

Everyone has an opinion about course evaluations, but most of these opinions are based on personal anecdotes and armchair speculation. Our guest in this episode is Betsy Barre, author of several articles reviewing the literature on what's right and what's wrong with course evaluations. Betsy is currently an Associate Director at Rice University's Center for Teaching Excellence, and in May 2018 she will move on to become the Executive Director of the Teaching and Learning Collaborative at Wake Forest University. We cover a lot of ground during our conversation about this important and complex topic.

22 Mar 2018

Rank #7

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Podcast #37: Using POGIL to Get out of the Lecture Game with Andri Smith

In this episode we talk to Associate Professor Andri Smith about how she brings organic chemistry to life at Quinnipiac University by using POGIL:  Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning. Students work in small groups, and discover scientific principles for themselves through guided exercises.

1 Aug 2016

Rank #8

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Podcast #13: Active Learning with Lynne Regan

Professor Lynne Regan from Yale's Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry believes in the power of active learning. In this episode she shares what she's learned incorporating active learning exercises into her classes.

27 Jul 2015

Rank #9

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Podcast #47: Experiential Learning and Organizational Psychology with David Berg

Our guest in this episode is organizational psychologist David Berg. He has taught in the Yale School of Management and is currently a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the Yale School of Medicine. David teaches students new ways to look at how organizations function through examples from their own lives. His classes look far more like organic conversations than traditional lectures, and students rave about how much they learn. We certainly learned a lot in our conversation.

6 Feb 2017

Rank #10

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Podcast #41: Confronting Teaching Challenges with Edward and Doug

Edward and Doug discuss several challenges they've faced in teaching new classes this semester. Edward needs help motivating online students from 3,000 miles away, while Doug tries to energize students in an early morning econometrics class. Edward's screenwriting class has a lot of moving parts to track, and Doug's juggling in-class activities and short bursts of lecturing. Both of them wrestle with new Learning Management Systems and other technology. There's something for everyone in this episode.

24 Oct 2016

Rank #11

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Podcast #61: The Future of Educational Technology

In this blockbuster finale of #edtechsummer, Edward and Doug invite three experts to share their thoughts on the future of educational technology. Michael Feldstein (e-Literate and Mindwires Consulting) reminds us that technology should serve pedagogy and suggests some sensible criteria we can use to evaluate new products. Matthew Rascoff (Duke Center for Instructional Technology) talks specifically about the future of the Learning Management System (LMS) and the potential for edtech to help students connect with each other. Brian Alexander (independent futurist) steps back to ponder the broader impact of technology on higher education. All in all, this is one of our most thought-provoking episodes.

29 Aug 2017

Rank #12

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Podcast #36: Teaching the Financial Crisis as a MOOC and in Person with Andrew Metrick

Andrew Metrick is one of the best teachers in the Yale School of Management. In this episode he walks us through exactly how he co-taught a class on the Global Financial Crisis with former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, turned that course into a highly rated Coursera MOOC, and then used those resources to reinvent the in person class. Our conversation is chock full of practical advice for anyone who teaches online or in person.

18 Jul 2016

Rank #13

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Podcast #14: Teaching as Coaching with John Bryan Starr

Before he retired in Spring of 2015, [John Bryan Starr taught two of the most highly regarded classes at Yale about the politics and policy surrounding public schools in the United States. These classes had a unique structure where students read and discussed the material outside class in small groups and continued their discussions in the classroom. In the words of one of his students, "You could just trust upon entering class every week that you were guaranteed a profound learning experience in those two hours." In this episode of the Teach Better Podcast, John Starr shares his secrets.

10 Aug 2015

Rank #14

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Podcast #50: Active Learning with Peter LePage

Peter LePage from the Cornell Physics Department joins us on our extra special 50th episode to talk about active learning pedagogy. He shares his first teaching experiences, his introduction to physics education research, and why he believes students benefit from problem solving and discussion in class. We also talk about the Active Learning Inititive, a program Peter started at Cornell that was inspired by Carl Wieman's Science Education Initiave. Both programs aim to change the culture of teaching in higher ed by giving departments large grants to radically overhaul how they teach their undergraduate courses.

22 Mar 2017

Rank #15

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Podcast #63: A Better Way to Integrate Student Presentations into the Classroom with Ileen Devault

Ileen Devault is a historian in Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations school. In this episode she talks with us how about how she shares teaching responsibility with her students by having them lead discussion of topics using primary sources. In the process, they learn about archival research, they bring fresh energy into the classroom, and perhaps most important, they learn to think like historians.

27 Sep 2017

Rank #16

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Podcast #21: Teaching Philosophically with Boris Kapustin

In this episode we're joined by Boris Kapustin, one of the most highly regarded teachers in Yale's Ethics, Politics, and Economics Program. We talk about how he leads seminars on political theory, connects philosophy to historical events, and changes how students think about the world they live in.

16 Nov 2015

Rank #17

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Podcast #69: Extreme Teaching

In this episode we take a walk through our archive and share some amazing examples of extreme teaching. These include college classes in prisons and chapels, incorporating balloons and cotton candy machines into a student project fair, and holding office hours on the radio. If you're new to the podcast or just want to be inspired by feats of pedagogical daring, you're going to love this one.

23 Jan 2018

Rank #18

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Podcast #70: Encouraging Creativity with Robert Sternberg

Cornell psychologist Robert Sternberg has done seminal work on creativity, wisdom, and cognitive styles. He cares deeply about higher education and teaching, and in this episode we focus on the role of creativity in the classroom. We talk about the importance of creativity in today's labor market, how to measure creativity, and how many students are motivated to learn when they are given an opportunity to be creative.

13 Feb 2018

Rank #19

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Podcast #67: Beyond Multiple Choice with Mark Urban-Lurain

Mark Urban-Lurain is the Associate Director for Engineering Education Research at Michigan State University. He's also the Principle Investigator on an NSF-sponsored project developing methods and software for Automated Analysis of Constructed Responses. Open-ended questions force students to think differently than multiple choice questions, but are much harder to grade. In this episode we talk to Mark about how the project uses machine learning to evaluate and analyze free text answers in order to shed new light on student understanding and misconceptions.

28 Nov 2017

Rank #20