Teaching Resources

I. Baylor University, Institute for Faith and Learning

In addition to cultivating the intellectual life of its students, Baylor is committed to the moral and spiritual formation of its students, so that they are prepared to serve both God and the world. Toward this end, each semester, the Forming Character in the Classroom workshop series offers opportunities for educators across the academic disciplines to reflect on how pedagogical practices might further this crucial work of the University’s Christian mission.

Each workshop will emphasize one or two significant character qualities — such as friendship, courage, wisdom, and justice — that might be part of a vibrant classroom that takes seriously Baylor's commitment to foster "spiritual maturity, strength of character, and moral virtue." The workshops seek to equip faculty to see their teaching and mentoring as crucial expressions of character formation.

From Baylor’s founding in 1845, the task of spiritual development and the cultivation of character has been central to its mission.  In keeping with this historic mission, Pro Futuris affirms that within a context of “intellectually informed faith and religiously informed education, the University seeks to provide an environment that fosters spiritual maturity, strength of character and moral virtue.” Underwriting this vision is the conviction that “both intellectual and spiritual pursuits are not only partners in the quest for truth, but essential to the growth and development of the whole person.”

This Character Across the Curriculum initiative grew out of a desire to provide Baylor educators a shared experience redesigning existing courses with character formation in mind.  Each spring, undergraduate and graduate faculty members are invited to submit proposals for redesigning existing courses with the aim of fostering “spiritual maturity, strength of character and moral virtue” through creative pedagogies and innovative assignment design. Proposals can be submitted for redesigning regularly taught courses or for designing new content for an existing course the applicant has not previously taught. 

Six Baylor faculty members from various disciplines are selected to participate in a cohort that meets monthly in the fall semester as they engage in learning and conversation about course redesign. They continue to meet as a learning community during the spring semester while the course is being taught to share ideas, questions, and best practices. To support course development, participants receive stipend for redesigning a course. To learn more, visit https://www.baylor.edu/ifl/index.php?id=952458.

Offered each May since 2001 by the Institute for Faith and Learning, Communio: A Retreat for Baylor Educators, is a five-day retreat featuring guest lectures and guided discussions by noted Christian thinkers, common meals and worship, and other activities that encourage collegiality among faculty members as they explore together their common aims as Christian educators at Baylor, seeking to foster “spiritual maturity, strength of character and moral virtue” among their students. To learn more, visit https://www.baylor.edu/ifl/index.php?id=934988.


II. The Intellectual Virtues

Baehr names curiosity, open mindedness, intellectual humility as some of the main intellectual virtues. Besides explaining teaching these virtues, Baehr offers an appendix of practical teaching resources, including, most notably, excerpts from literary and historical figures who exemplify each of the virtues.

Addresses especially empathy, but also rigor and respect


III. Resources from Virtues Initiatives
A. Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, University of Oklahoma
http://www.ou.edu/flourish/resources/course-resources
This site includes excellent resources such as sample syllabi, sample rationales for specific disciplines (e.g. architecture, journalism ethics), presentations given at the university as part of its virtues and human flourishing initiatives; teaching resources such as an updated Bloom’s taxonomy; course handouts, and many more.

B. Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life project, University of Chicago
Link to main site: http://virtue.uchicago.edu/

Overview: “Research in the humanities and social sciences suggest that individuals who feel they belong to something bigger and better than they are on their own—a family with a long history and the prospect of future generations, a spiritual practice,work on behalf of social justice—often feel happier and have better life outcomes than those who do not. Some scholars have labeled this sense of connection to a larger force “self-transcendence.” By fostering intensive collaboration between philosophers, religious thinkers, and psychologists, we will investigate whether self-transcendence helps to make ordinary cultivation and exercise of virtue a source of deep happiness and meaning in human life.”

This podcast, which “explores the nature of love and happiness as depicted in important works of literature, poetry, and film,” would be of particular interest in the literature classroom. Also applicable to philosophy, history, religion, and political science.

C. The Character Project, Wake Forest
This is an impressive reference library, particularly for instructors looking for texts that offer background ethics. Though geared toward philosophy classes, many selections could apply elsewhere, including an entire section on “Moral Education” relevant to Baylor’s emphasis on moral and spiritual formation of students.

D. The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

  • Teacher Resources for Character Education:
Though geared more towards primary and secondary education, many of the resources are relevant to university-level instruction.

E. A New Science of Virtues, University of Chicago

This project, led by Jean Bethke Elshtain, is “a hub for Virtues research.”

F. Boston University Center for Character & Social Responsibility

Though this was developed for elementary school educators, its overview is helpful for instruction at the university level


IV. Resources for Specific Virtues

Humility

This issue, which addresses the moral ambiguities of technology, can help students consider what virtue might look like in our relationship with virtual devices. It also addresses integrity.

Courage

A scholarly research project examining how adversity can build character.

Rigor

  • Project Zero’s project Teaching for Understanding: Cultivates rigor by focusing only on classroom goals and activities that will actively promote student understanding. A valuable tool for honing lesson plans.

The Concept: David Perkins and Tina Blythe, “Putting Understanding Up Front,” Teaching for Understanding, 1994, vol. 51, no. 5, pages 4-7 http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb94/vol51/num05/Putting-Understanding-Up-Front.aspx

In Practice: “Questions for Tuning Up a Lesson Plan” (2004) Tina Blythe and David Allen, Copyright Harvard Project Zero http://www.pz.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/Questions%20for%20Tuning%20Up%20a%20Lesson%20Plan.pdf

Integrity

Especially helpful is the college seminar on this topic

This issue applies to both integrity and respect, asking “How can we think and act with integrity in our sexual ethics? And how can we respect those with whom we are in relationship?” According to Matt Fradd in “Chastity as a Virtue,” chastity is "a habit of reverence for oneself and others that enables us to use our sexual powers intelligently in the pursuit of human flourishing and happiness.”

Compassion

Responsibility

Patience

Wisdom

Love

Corey observes, “An awakened desire is the basis for a truly liberal education.” Her article attempts to correct some weak defenses of the humanities. Students learn to love difficult texts, she says, through a kind of love for the teachers who lead them through the text.

DeYoung argues that the vice of acedia, or sloth, directly opposes the “gift and life-transforming work” of love in our lives.


V. Readings Covering Multiple Virtues

VI. Resources for Business Professors

VII. Bloom's Taxonomy

VIII. Assesment Methods