Insper’s Dean of Academic Affairs and Coordinators of the Teaching and Learning Center had published a book focused on the design of courses and programs
In January 2021, Brazilian publishing house Atlas launched the newest book written by Irineu Gianesi, Insper’s Dean of Academic Affairs, and Juliana Massi and Débora Mallet, Coordinators of Insper’s Teaching and Learning Center. In the book Formação de Professores – No Desenho de Disciplinas e Cursos (“Professor Training for Designing Courses and Programs,” in a free translation), the authors discuss learning methodologies and experiences acquired from their practice at Insper.
The work published by the trio results from years of research focused on teaching and learning processes developed within the school. The method, designed from several international references, is taught in Insper’s Executive Education programs since 2018. Now, through the book, this educational discussion can be shared with an even wider audience.
“The book systematizes the work developed over several years for Insper’s faculty development and improvement. It is based on what we have learned by studying, interacting with other international institutions, and giving and receiving feedback. The time has come to share this knowledge so that this movement can be followed in other institutions in Brazil”, Prof. Gianesi explains.
Prof. Juliana says the authors already had considered the desire to write a book on the subject but had doubts about the ideal format. Until, in the very first class, the demand for a book with the contents and methodologies discussed in the program came from the students themselves. “Right from this initial experience, the first question the students asked was whether we would have a book to accompany the lessons. We already had references from universities and books produced in Brazil and abroad substantiating our course. However, we set the goal of creating a book compiling all of our research related to teaching and learning”.
For Prof. Débora Mallet, her experience working at Insper was essential for producing the method presented in the book. “Our work at Insper brings forth much need for evidence — not only that coming from classroom perceptions and sharing with students but also that which we get from data. With this research for the book and the course, we can affirm that educating is scientific labor”.
On March 4, the authors will participate in a book launch debate, talking with invited educators. Do not miss it out!
Check out our full interview with professors Débora and Juliana:
How did you come up with the idea of discussing Professor Education in your book?
Débora: The book is one step in a long process. We already had an ACA (Student-Centered Learning, for its acronym in Portuguese) course within Insper and thought it was time to do a review. Given Insper’s characteristic of being an institution willing to impact society and offer knowledge to all those interested, we proposed a new course that we could also offer to Education professionals. After much discussion, we came to the fundamental principle that everything starts with the design of learning. So we wanted to propose a look at the path you start from to conquer your learning goals and ways to chart that process.
Juliana: We have come to the conclusion that there are no good classes without planning. We started thinking about a course to help in this process of teaching measurement and execution precisely. We ran the first class at the Executive Education program in 2018. Many attendees asked us if there was a book to accompany the lessons in this very first experience. We already had references, such as Olin College’s and Harvard’s experiences, and the books Understanding by Design and How learning Works, that substantiated the course. However, we set the goal of creating a book compiling all of our research related to teaching and learning”.
How did you carry out the book’s research and writing process “by six hands”?
Débora: I think the process was born with the structuring of the DEA, which is our school’s center for Teaching and Learning. The DEA (Desenvolvimento de Ensino e Aprendizagem, meaning an area for Teaching and Learning Development) was divided into two groups. One of them had focused on assessment and course design [on course assessment and design], and the other looked at faculty management, which includes training and dynamics. Those two things are related, of course. However, that work on two fronts was key to our research, with broken-down [shared] processes that come together and translate into concepts very close to classroom practice.
I think the book reflects that. In it, the three of us created the course design proposals together, based on each other’s experience with teaching and learning. Also, we fully addressed all methodological steps. The three of us are instructors in the training course, and any of us can teach any of the classes. It was a joint construction, very in-line and inspired.
Juliana: To achieve this model, we had received guidance from the school’s leadership to seek ways for assisting our professors’ continuous improvement based on indicators. The school had already discussed with the professors an initial idea of what would be the Teaching Excellence Criteria. It should consider planning and dynamics focused on student-centered learning, as well as ways of measuring learning. Nonetheless, all that was not yet well systematized. From that point on, we had the opportunity to develop the PDAF (Planning, Dynamics, Assessments, and Feedbacks), which is a course-design and teacher-training methodology. We already had the ACA (Student-Centered Learning) course, through which we already had more than 200 people trained. It changed professors’ mindsets but did not teach them about planning, making it difficult to apply. So, the method we developed helped give greater access to the proposals, bringing us closer to what we call learning management.
What was the pandemic’s impact on producing the book? How do you assess professor training in a remote teaching context?
Débora: This method that the book proposes, which is also the course method, basically makes sense for any class modality (remote, in-person, or hybrid), as it deals with principles that should always be thought of in any educational context. We have included in the book some text boxes seeking to connect the topics covered to the remote teaching context. With the onset of the pandemic, we saw technology for learning’s function and potential for what they really are.
Juliana: I think we had an excellent fit with this moment that we live. In March 2020, we were already in the book’s final revision. Then came the pandemic. Because we helped the school make the transition from in-person to remote teaching — practically overnight – we learned a lot from the process. That made it possible for us to take advantage of this experience and place several tips about this new format throughout the book.
I think the biggest learning from the pandemic, which validated a perception that we already had, was to discover the PDAF method works for each and every teaching model. A good class session will only work if we have learning objectives. Then, it is up to the teacher to look at what technology is available and what dynamics he will build so that the objective is accomplished.
Did the experience at Insper influence the formulation of the theses presented in the book?
Débora: It completely influenced. I have always worked in education and had several experiences in this field. We know that this is a field full of data, exams, and assessments. However, in classroom practice, these things are not always present. That means that it is often not known exactly what is being assessed when making a student’s learning assessment. It is not common to look at the results and think about what problems we have and how to intervene to help the student overcome what is not going well.
Our work at Insper breaks up with this logic. It brings forth the constant need for evidence — not only that coming from perceptions and sharing with students but also that which we get from data. With this research for the book and the course, we can affirm that educating is scientific labor. I think the school’s cult of evidence was not such a clear reference for me before I get here.
Juliana: I also had been working in education before I joined Insper. I had some experiences as a program coordinator. Even though I had a major interest in professor training, I didn’t have time to study and dedicate myself to it in a way I would have liked. So, when I arrived at Insper and saw an area exclusively dedicated to that, I was able to understand why it is a school of excellence. I think that this possibility of dedicating oneself exclusively to professor training and to learning was essential for the book to be born. It took five years of time and resources to dedicate to the theme.
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