Jack Gittinger

Professor of Education

Office Location:
Hillman Hall 104A
Office Hours:

Professor of Education
B.S., Bowling Green State University, 1969
B.S., Texas A&M University, 1970
M.A.University of New Mexico, 1978
Ph.D.University of New Mexico, 1987

Personal Web Site: https://sites.google.com/site/jackdgittinger/ 


I teach in the Simpson Education Department.  My primary course responsibilities are:

  • Elementary and Middle School Mathematics
  • Elementary and Middle School Social Studies
  • Reading in the Content Area
  • Economics for Elementary Teachers (Online Module)
  • Geography for Elementary Teachers (Online Module)

I also teach a science course for elementary education majors:  Physical and Earth Science for Elementary Teachers

On occasion, I teach the Mathematics for Elementary Teachers courses for the Mathematics Department.

I am the director of the Iowa GeoGebra Institute, a collaborative effort with Drake University aimed at improving elementary and middle school mathematics education.

Philosophy of Teaching and Learning

My teaching here at Simpson, especially in the methods of teaching courses, reflects two basic and, for me at least, very important principles or beliefs outlined below.

1. Teaching, Learning, Thinking, and the School

School, whether an elementary, middle, high or post-secondary school, is not so much a place for teaching as it is a place for thinking, critical thinking. If people can be encouraged to think, they will learn — it is impossible to do otherwise.

What do I mean by “thinking?” Though his research and conclusions are almost 50 years old, and there are certainly more fashionable theories to embrace, Bloom did the best job that I have yet found of clearly and succinctly stating what students in a school should be doing:

  • Comprehension: Understand the meaning of concepts, problems, and even skills. Understand the “why?”
  • Application: Use a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction. Applies what was learned in the classroom into novel, authentic situations.
  • Analysis: Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. Distinguishes between facts and inferences.
  • Synthesis: Builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Pulls parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure.
  • Evaluation: Make reasoned and defensible judgments about the value of ideas, conclusions, problem solutions, etc.

The application of this simple taxonomy as a yard-stick for evaluating our practices in the classroom carries enormous implications. If we do nothing else, we should begin to consistently use this hierarchy as we reflect on the intellectual culture of our schools.

There are models of teaching that clearly increase the probability that students will think deeply about a subject and its content, e.g., problem-based learning, project-based learning, and the laboratory model (inductive model). By design, all of these models constantly engage learners in application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

2.Learning to Learn

A primary goal of education at all levels has got to be to help people learn to learn. The world is changing rapidly, the knowledge base is changing daily — schools can no longer be viewed as the only place where one learns. Ultimately, the most important gift that an educational system can give to its students is the desire, ability, and confidence to become their own teacher — intellectual independence. Practically, this translates into realities like:

  • learning to ask questions, not just answer them,
  • testing and improving strategies, rather than simply memorizing algorithms, and
  • working within an environment that allows individuals to identify their strengths as well as their weaknesses and then learn to act accordingly.

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