On Teaching and Learning: Putting the Principles and Practices of Dialogue Education into Action
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More About This Title On Teaching and Learning: Putting the Principles and Practices of Dialogue Education into Action


On Teaching and Learning takes the ideas explored in renowned educator Jane Vella’s best-selling book Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach to the next level and explores how dialogue education has been applied in educational settings around the world. Throughout the book, she shows how to put the principles and practices of dialogue education into action and uses illustrative stories and examples from her extensive travels. Dialogue education values inquiry, integrity, and commitment to equity—values that are also central to democracy. Learners are treated as beings worthy of respect, recognized for the knowledge and experience they bring to the learning experience. Dialogue education emphasizes the importance of safety and belonging. It is an approach that welcomes one’s certainties and one’s questions.



Jane Vella founded the Jubilee Popular Education Center (now Global Learning Partners) in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is an adjunct professor at the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has designed and led community education and staff development programs in more than forty countries around the world. She is the author of five Jossey-Bass titles including Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach; Taking Learning to Task; and Dialogue Education at Work. She can be contacted at [email protected].


Foreword xi

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xxvii

The Author xxix

Introduction 1

Part One: Structured 9

1. Why Structure? 11

2. Learning Needs and Resources Assessment 19

3. The Seven Design Steps 31

Part Two: Social 51

4. The Learning Task in a Small Group 53

5. Individual Learning Enhanced 67

Part Three: Sound 81

6. Principles and Practices: Current State of the Art 83

7. Open Questions Invite Dialogue 111

8. The Designer’s Skill: Trust Your Design 117

Part Four: Sure 127

9. Indicators of Learning, Transfer, and Impact 129

10. Impact and the Seven Design Steps 137

Part Five: Synthesis: Putting It All Together 147

11. Putting It All Together: Examples of Dialogue Education Designs 149

12. An On-Line Course Using Dialogue Education 167

13. Dialogue Education in School Leadership 171

14. Dialogue Education in Health Care Settings 191

15. Dialogue Education in a College Classroom 205

Appendix A: Glossary of Terms Used in Dialogue Education 215

Appendix B: Tough Verbs for Learning Tasks 221

References 223

Index 227


This book is just in time for me or anyone interested in designing face-to-face and online courses. It demonstrates through the use of sound principles and practices how a seven-step design can be used to infuse structure throughout the college course or training workshop without sacrificing spontaneity or creativity. Vella has written a marvelously engaging, insightful and resourceful book which can be used as a template for making anyone feel comfortable heading into the classroom or teaching online whether they are a new or experienced instructor.”--Virginia H. Milhouse, associate professor and Fulbright Professor of Intercultural and International Relations, University of Oklahoma



“Jane Vella and dialogue-based education go hand-in-hand. Through On Teaching and Learning her insights deepen, her experience shows through, and her gift for useful application shines. Loaded with ideas, practical suggestions and illustrations this book will connect with the deeper purpose and process of creating learning no matter the subject matter. Vella has a way of giving us structure and freedom, encouragement and nudging provocation to rise to our best as trainers and educators. This is an apple on any teacher’s desk. Keep it close.”--John Paul Lederach, professor of international peacebuilding, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame