Cases in  
 the Course
What Students  
Site Index

      ED 269: Principles of Learning for Teaching

          Stanford University Winter Quarter 2000


Prof. Linda Darling-Hammond 

Dr. Karen Hammerness

Dr. Kay Moffett

Prof. Lee Shulman  

Misty Sato (Teaching Assistant)

Course Description

This course addresses the relationships among three fundamental aspects of the educational process: the subject-matter of the curriculum, the diverse capabilities of students, and the teacher's responsibilities to design and implement instruction. We view the challenge of teaching as the creation of bridges between the knowledge embodied in the subject matter, on the one hand, and the minds and motives of students, on the other hand. In our various content areas, we will ask what counts as knowledge. How does its character vary across or within disciplines? What are the general processes of learning and thinking?  How are these processes influenced by aspects of student language, culture, prior knowledge, and experience?  How can teachers transform their subject matter knowledge into representations that help students draw on their own resources to construct and transform knowledge of their own? 

These are tough questions, of a sort rarely answered once and for all, no matter how many years one has been teaching. They are tough because they occupy that contested territory between theory and practice, where both perspectives are needed but neither can suffice. They are tough because, at a theoretical level, they demand the contributions of many disciplines, such as psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and philosophy. They are tough because at a practical level no two situations are quite comparable, and the helpful maxim for one setting becomes balderdash for another.  Learning to teach thus demands that we weave delicate webs of the general and the particular, finding ways to enrich our personal experiences through studying the experiences of others, seeking theoretical insights that give meaning to what we do, or raise skeptical questions about what we think we know.

In this course we will engage these challenges through employing a variety of materials and activities.  Most classes will be divided into two sessions: a large group lecture, demonstration, or discussion in which ideas will be expounded, demonstrated, discussed and elaborated; and a discussion section (with about 12 STEP teachers in each) in which these ideas will be further examined through reading and discussing cases of teaching.  We view the variety of "case methods" as a vehicle for connecting useful theory with accounts of practice and its problems. You will do many things with cases this quarter. You will read, analyze, and discuss cases of teaching written by teachers and researchers who have written analytic accounts of their practice for their own benefits and as a contribution to others. You will also read and discuss cases written by some of your predecessors in STEP, who have left these accounts as a legacy to you, even as they used their case writing as a form of disciplined reflection to learn from their own experiences. You will write cases of your own teaching, and will use those cases as an occasion for examining aspects of your work. You will comment on and critique each other's cases. You too will leave a legacy of cases.


The course readings include a book by Jerome Bruner [The Process of Education, Harvard University Press (1960, 1977)], on-line readings from the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, as well as a volume of collected readings combining a casebook and a sourcebook. The casebook sections include a variety of cases of teaching from elementary and secondary classrooms across content areas and diverse contexts of culture and community.  The sourcebook includes theoretical, research, and policy papers on teaching, learning, language, culture, and curriculum.

Assignments: (detailed instructions for each assignment will be distributed in class)



A case is a first person interpretive narrative account of a sequence of events of teaching and learning taken from your own experiences during these first few months of teaching and examined through the lens of research on learning and teaching.  We will provide a number of models and an explicit organizational structure (though not the five-paragraph essay). The case you write for this course will be a case of subject-matter oriented teaching, a curriculum case. You will also be expected to solicit at least two commentaries to accompany your final draft. One commentary must come from a fellow STEP teacher (which means that you are expected to write one commentary on the case of a colleague). Other commentaries can come from experienced teachers, community members, administrators, and even students. Cases generally run five to ten pages plus appendices. Commentaries rarely exceed a page or two. Your case and its associated commentaries will become entries in your STEP portfolio. Examples of STEP-written cases and commentaries are in the STEP curriculum library .


As noted above, your commentary on a colleague's case will be part of your responsibility as a peer reviewer.  In your commentary you will provide an additional perspective on the case from your own vantagepoint as a teacher and a researcher.


After writing your case and receiving feedback from faculty, STEP colleagues, and others who write commentaries, you will write a brief reflective essay on your case, commentaries, and course readings.  This essay will allow you take a metacognitive stance toward your teaching practice and offer the opportunity for you to ask what you have learned from your case and the discussions around it.  We will provide the guidelines for the essay in class.


    Jan. 19  Initial outline of case due to section leader

    Jan. 31  Case conference #1 on first draft of case

    Feb. 23 Penultimate draft of case due to section leader

    March 13 Case conference #2 on final draft of case

    March 16 Final case, two commentaries, and reflective essay due by 6:00PM


The course is graded on a letter-grade basis.  A's will be given for outstanding performance on all assignments and active participation in discussion sections. A grade of C represents marginal quality on all assignments. When assignments do not meet the standard to which they aspire, students will be offered the opportunity to revise within a time limit. Clear criteria will be specified for each assignment and STEP teachers will be invited to apply those criteria to their own performance whenever appropriate.

INCOMPLETE GRADES WILL NOT BE GIVEN!  It has been our sad experience during many years of teaching this course that an incomplete grade given out of kindness in March becomes an open wound as graduation looms near in June. Keep up with the assignments. There will be no exceptions other than those associated with family tragedies or serious illness.


January 5 (W) Introduction

January 10 (M) Learning from Cases [Lee Shulman]

        Shulman, L.S. (1996) Just in case: Reflections on learning from experience. In J.A. Colbert, P. Desberg & K. Trimble (Eds.) The Case for Education: Contemporary Approaches for Using Case Methods. Boston:  Allyn & Bacon.

        White, V. (1988). One struggle after another.  In J. Shulman & J. Colbert (Eds.) Intern Teacher Casebook. San Francisco:  Far West Lab.

        Ellis, M. W.   (1992). Demystifying Pi:  A case of trying to enhance student understanding.  Case prepared for ED269,Foundations of Learning for Teaching, STEP program.

        Recommended: Shakespeare, W. Romeo and Juliet, Prologue, Act I. Sc.i, Act II, sc.ii.


January 17 (M) Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: No Class

January 19 (W) Structure, Readiness, and the Challenge of "Intellectual Honesty"

        Bruner, J.S. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Ch.1-3.

        Ball, D.L. (1993).  With an eye on the mathematical horizon:  Dilemmas of teaching elementary school mathematics.  Elementary School Journal.  93 (4).  373-97.

        Ball, D. (1990). Teacher's journal for January 19, 23, and 25. EasLansing, MI: M.A.T.H. project.

        Jetter, A. (1993) We shall overcome, this time with algebra. New York Times Magazine, February 21, 1993.

Due:  Outline draft of case

January 24 (M) Views of Understanding: Knowledge, Representation and Performance

        Norman, D. (1980) What goes on in the mind of the learner? In W.J. McKeachie (Ed.), New   Directions for Teaching and Learning:  Learning, Cognition, and College Teaching. No. 2.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.  pp. 37-49.

        Perkins, D. (1998). What is understanding? In M.S. Wiske's (Ed.), Teaching for Understanding: Linking research with practice.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. pp. 39-57.

        Shulman, L.S.  and Ringstaff, C. (1986). Current research in the psychology of teaching and learning.  In A. Bork & H. Weinstock (Eds.), Designing computer-based learning materials, pp. 1-31.

        Wineburg, S. and Wilson, S. (1988). Models of wisdom in the teaching of history. Phi Delta Kappan 70(1). 50-58.

Feedback on case from section leader

January 31 (M) Cognitive Processing 

        Bransford, J., A.L. Brown and R.C. Cocking, (Eds.) (1999).  How People Learn:  Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington: National Academy Press, Ch. 4 How Children Learn (excerpt pp. 83-101 starting with "Strategies for Learning and Metacognition") [] and Ch. 5 Mind & Brain, pp. 102-115. []

        Armstrong, T. (1994). Multiple intelligences in the classroom.  Alexandria, VA:  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  pp. 1-14 and 146-155.

        Bloom, B. et al (1956). Condensed Version of the Taxonomy ofEducational Objectives. In Bloom, B. et al (Eds.) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The classification of educational goals, Handbook 1, Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay. pp. 201-207.

Case conference #1 on first draft of case

Potluck at the Shulman's house 6:00pm

February 7 (M) Metacognition and Learning

        Bransford, J., A.L. Brown and R.C. Cocking, (Eds.) (1999).  How People Learn:  Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington: National Academy Press, Ch. 3 Learning and Transfer, pp. 39-66. []

        Resnick, L. (1987). Education and learning to think. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

        Heller, J. I. and Gordon, A. (1992).  Lifelong learning.  Educator, 6(1).  Graduate School of Education, University of California at Berkeley.  pp. 4-19.

February 14 (M) What One Has to "Do" to Learn

        Collins, A., Brown, J.S., & Holum, A. (1991). Cognitive apprenticeship: Making thinking visible. American Educator, pp.6-11, 38-46.

        Lee, Carol (1995). A culturally based cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching African-American high school students' skills of literary interpretation. Reading Research Quarterly, 30(4), pp. 608-630.

        Bransford, J., A.L. Brown and R.C. Cocking, (Eds.) (1999).  How People Learn:  Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington: National Academy Press, Ch. 7 Effective Teaching:  Examples in History, Mathematics, and Science, pp. 143-177.[]

February 21(M) Presidents' Day: No Class


February 23 (W) Context, Culture and Learning

        Ladson-Billings, G. (1994).  The Dreamkeepers:  Successful teachers of African American children.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.  Ch. 5 Tree of Knowledge, pp. 78-101 and Ch. 6 Culturally Relevant Teaching, pp. 102-126.

        Juarez, D. A. (1999). A question of fairness: Using writing and literature to expand ethnic identity and understand marginality. In S. Freidman, E.R. Simons, J. S. Kalnin, & A. Casareno (Eds.), Inside City Schools. New York: Teachers College Press. pp. 111-125.

        Skolnick, J. (1995).  Diane:  Gender, culture, and a crisis of classroom control.  In J.S. Kleinfeld and S. Yerian (Eds.), Gender tales:  Tensions in the schools.  New York:  St. Martin's Press.  pp. 111-116.

        Due:  penultimate draft of case of instruction

February 28 (M) Assessment for Learning and Teaching

        Black, P.J. and Wiliam, D. (1998).  Inside the black box:  Raising standards through classroom assessment.  Phi Delta Kappan.  80(2).  39-46.

        Darling-Hammond, L., Ancess, J. & Falk, B. (1995). Authentic Assessment in Action. New York: Teachers College Press.  Ch.2 Graduation by portfolio at Central Park East Secondary School, pp. 21-75 and Ch. 6 The Bronx New School (excerpt starting with "Akeem's Story"),  p. 217-223.

        Feedback from section leader by March 1


March 6 (M) Policy Contexts and Learning

          Atkin, J.M. (1994).  Developing word-class educational standards:  Some conceptual and political dilemmas.  In N. Cobb (Ed.) The future of education:  Perspectives on National Standards in America.  New York:  College Entrance Examination Board. pp. 61-84.

          Zancanella, D. (1992).  The influence of state-mandated testing on teachers of literature.  Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 14(3).  283-295.

          Ellwood, S.C. (1997).  The power of possibilities.  In A.L. Goodwin (Ed.), Assessment for equity and inclusion:  Embracing all our children (Transforming Teaching Series).  New York:  Routledge. pp. 77-99.

          Darling-Hammond, L. (1997).  The right to learn.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.  Ch. 7 Creating standards without standardization (excerpt), pp. 210-245.

March 13 (M) Case Conference #2: Presentations and discussions of full case studies

March 16 (TH)

Due: Final case study, two commentaries, and reflective essay on case and commentaries



[Introduction] [Background] [Cases in  the Course] [What Students  Learned] [Site Index]