Strategies for Teaching Non-majors

Handout by Mary Grace Gainer used at the Reflective Practice Large Group Meeting

“Integrated curriculum blends subjects together. For instance, math, science, social studies, fine arts, and language arts are sometimes integrated for effective learning. The integration is based on setting curricular priorities in each and finding the overlapping skills, concepts, attitudes, and content.” (Roe, Stoodt, and Burns, 1998) from The Content Areas.

“Literature and primary sources are important in authentic approaches to learning. They can provide relevant, interesting, and intellectually provocative materials for students to develop new attitudes toward and understandings of the world around them.” (Guzzetti, Kowalinski, and McGowan, 1992) from “Using a Literature-Based Approach to Teaching Social Studies” in Journal of Reading.

“[B]ecause most students take these courses during the first year of college, the inherently cross-disciplinary composition course can serve as an introductory arena where students begin to view their personal and academic needs and desires through the lens of sustainability.” (Owens, 2001)

“Educators have a responsibility to help students resist the cynicism and hyperboredom of self-worth that comes from being amazed at one's local worlds.” (Owens, 2001)

Think like bees see: “mosaic theory of construction of courses and curricula” and “Conceptualizing courses and curricula should be an exercise in cross-pollination. It has become necessary to think like bees see, missing neither the forest or the trees.” (Owens, 2001) from Composition and Sustainability: Teaching for a Threatened Generation.

Often, since my students are first-year admits, they may be undecided or even unsure about their majors. I try to choose readings that provide interesting examples of writing techniques, yet come from a variety of interest areas. As I preview or conclude discussion of readings for the week, I mention content areas that the articles come from. Simply saying, “If you enjoyed reading about gender issues, you might be interested in sociology, women's studies, or psychology.” Not only are these students pondering majors, but even those who are solidly decided must choose electives and may discover a latent interest or possible minor.

~M.G. Gainer