The other Mr Bean – John C. Bean – hails from Seattle U, and is the author of Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. This book aggregates around three decades worth of research in writing studies into a practical toolkit for professors who want more active learning and critical thinking in their classrooms. In the W2012 Writing Fellows we’ve been using the new edition of John Bean’s Engaging Ideas, and while our previous participants have unanimously agreed that the original 1996 edition is excellent, I think we can now publicly offer the view that the new 2011 version offers dramatic improvements in several key areas.
Two new chapters especially impressed the Writing Fellows this winter. “Helping Writers Think Rhetorically” and “Using a Range of Genres to Extend Critical Thinking and Deepen Learning” examine how experimenting with alternate genres and audiences can increase student engagement with academic writing. Too often, Bean suggests, higher education leaves students with an impoverished understanding of the complex nature of writing by requiring assignments be addressed, ad nauseum, to a single audience: “Teacher.” Another topic extensively revised is approaches to research writing. In “Designing and Sequencing Assignments to Teach Undergraduate Research,” Bean explains a range of assignment design tactics aimed at avoiding “data dump” and eliciting engaged, committed inquiry.
Engaging Ideas is available via the Dawson library’s Ebrary service – you’ll find it here.
If you are interested in checking out the Bean in workshop mode, the first 20 minutes or so of this 2008 Baruch College (CUNY) video is an good introduction to WAC/WID approaches to disciplinary writing and learning: Bean Baruch College workshop (2008)