January 2017

Leveraging student heterogeneity to bridge gaps through active learning

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

Wessling-ResnickMarianne Wessling-Resnick, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry, employs active learning strategies including debate, ‘pair and share,’ and peer evaluation to bridge gaps in student experience and knowledge. “I have found that it is to my advantage to use the heterogeneity of the class as a tool.”

The benefits: Students enrolled in graduate courses at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health represent diverse academic preparation and intended career tracks, illustrated in matrix form to prospective students. “No matter what part of the quadrant you are in, you can use your background and expertise in the classroom.”

Pre-texts: The Arts Teach (Anything)

The Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) hosted its Speaker Series on November 30, 2016 with guest speakers: Doris Sommer, Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies; Gigi Luk, Associate Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education; Adriana Gutiérrez, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literature; and Viviane Gontijo, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literature.

The talk, entitled “Pre-Texts: The Arts Teach (Anything),” discussed a program for education professionals to employ close reading and critical thinking skills by making art – visual performance, literacy, etc. – based on challenging texts. Professor Sommer described Pre-Texts as a tool that “transfers the authority of learning and gives the keys to unlock knowledge to students.” According to Sommer, it is an effective method achieved with few resources. Jump to full video.