“Small Teaching” with First-Year Undergraduate Students

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Kate DeConinck


This contribution to the forum on James Lang’s Small Teaching analyzes one instructor’s implementation of Lang's techniques in a world religions course for first-year undergraduate students. Two types of strategies are considered in depth: those that use prediction to help students acquire and retain knowledge of class material, as well as those that cultivate connections to previously mastered material and encourage active learning. For example, one activity asked students to use prediction as a tool for preparing for local guest speakers, helping to unsettle pre-existing stereotypes and assumptions. Another activity asked students to create concept maps to draw connections across religious traditions. Ultimately, the author argues that these “small teaching” strategies did not require substantial work or resources from the instructor or her students but went a long way in fostering learning and critical thinking. The insights gleaned from this article could be applied to other courses and teaching contexts.

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"Small Teaching" Using James Lang