discussion

Difficult topics: Seeking and considering alternative viewpoints in the classroom

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

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson, Professor of Education, develops case studies about difficult questions in educational ethics—for example, grade inflation, charter schools, and policies that disproportionately impact low-income students of color—for A203 Educational Justice students to debate and discuss the ethical dimensions of educational practice and policy.  

The benefits: In addition to in-depth content analysis, case discussions illuminate different views among students who may have expected they were in like-minded company. According to Levinson, this is an important goal for instructors, as we tend to assume that others think the same as we do: “Students learn that is not true. We are socialized culturally to avoid difficult conversations—‘don’t talk about religion, sex, or politics at a dinner party’—and not often provided opportunities to substantively engage with one another."

Problems and puzzles: Boosting engagement with interactivity

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

Joshua GreeneJoshua Greene, Professor of Psychology, designs course sessions for maximum engagement by creating interactive opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to grapple with problems and challenge one another. “It’s not a puzzle if there are not two competing, compelling arguments. I try to use students’ natural inclinations to achieve my pedagogical purposes—if they’re not at least a little confused, then I’m not doing my job.”

The benefits: Organizing both seminar-style discussions

Online engagement: Designing a learner-centered HarvardX course

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

Diane MooreDiane Moore, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies and Education, collaborated with HDS and FAS colleagues to produce a six-module, online course offering through HarvardX called World Religions Through Their Scriptures. They designed all digital material for optimal engagement of the 130,000 enrolled students: “It’s essential to provide language and tools in order for students from diverse worldviews, religions, experiences, ages, and regions of the world to constructively interact around topics that often divide us.”

From the source: Guest speakers in the classroom

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

David GarvinDavid Garvin, C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration,utilizes guest speakers in General Management: Processes and Action in order to promote deeper understanding of managerial and organizational realities. He has experimented with and refined three approaches—Q&A with a case study protagonist, themed presentations and small group conversations with executives, and open-ended conversations with a guest lecturer (often an alum) about their career.

Learning through literature: ‘Closer to life as it is really lived’

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

Sucher
Sandra Sucher, MBA Class of 1966 Professor of Management Practice, teaches “The Moral Leader” at Harvard Business School with a literature-based approach. The MBA elective, introduced by Professor Emeritus Robert Coles in the 1980s, has since been taught by a number of HBS faculty. Each course meeting is dedicated to a work of fiction, biography, autobiography, or history, and the structured discussion forces students to describe and analyze the characters’ decision in context before passing judgment. “Students are brought much closer to life as it is really lived than they are in traditional lectures or case discussions."

Feedback vs. evaluation: Getting past the reluctance to deliver negative feedback

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

When Dr. Keith Baker, Associate Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Anesthesia Residency Program at Massachusetts General Hospitalgives medical residents feedback, he emphasizes a “learning orientation” (where the goal is mastery), rather than a “performance orientation” (where the goal is validation of abilities).

Learning from learning management systems: New ways to engage students through Canvas

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

Arthur Applbaum, Adams Professor of Democratic Values, Quinton Mayne, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, and Christopher Robichaud, Lecturer in Ethics and Public Policy piloted the new University-wide learning management system, Canvas, in their spring 2015 courses at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Elevating class conversation: Taking a case-based approach

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

Nancy Kane, Professor of Management and Associate Dean of Case-based Teaching and Learning at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Healthtrains instructors on using the teaching case to lead effective course discussions

THE BENEFITS

Elements from case-based teaching can elevate the level of discussion in just about any class. Research has long suggested that “doing” rather than just watching promotes deeper learning.

Devices in the classroom? Things to consider

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

Alison SimmonsAlison Simmons, Samuel H. Wolcott Professor of Philosophy, made a decision in 2012 to include a policy in all her syllabi stating that electronic devices be put away during class time.

The benefits: Without distractions, her students are more actively engaged. “Philosophical discussion is a team sport that requires refraining from conversation and activities that do not contribute to the discussion, actively listening to each other, and working with each other."