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Applying the science of behavior change to lesson planning

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

Todd Rogers, Into PracticeTodd Rogers, Professor of Public Policy, teaches students in MLD304 The Science of Behavior Change to leverage insights about human decision making and develop interventions through carefully constructed class activities and facilitated discussion, such as randomized experiments and think-pair-share brainstorms, respectively. One activity, developed and refined in collaboration with Professors Brigitte Madrian and Jennifer Lerner, requires that students work in groups to write an appeal asking online workers to donate their compensation to charity.

The benefits: "It's a nice culmination of what they learn about behavior change," ... Read more about Applying the science of behavior change to lesson planning

Encouraging students to engage with one another to solve problems (and problem sets)

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

Cassandra ExtavourCassandra G. Extavour, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is one of six co-instructors for LIFESCI 50(A & B) Integrated Science, an intensive two-semester course created by Andrew Murray, Herschel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics, covering methods and concepts from biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. They design class discussion and assignments as problems that require students to rely on one another to solve."We let them know it's normal to not be able to answer everything on the problem sets on their own. We've structured them that way. They learn to engage with classmates, or with us, to work it out."... Read more about Encouraging students to engage with one another to solve problems (and problem sets)

HILT Speaker Series: Integrating my online course to improve the classroom experience

The Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) hosted its Speaker Series on December 8, 2017 in Harvard Hall 202 which featured Kathryn Parker Boudett, Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In the interactive session, attendees learned how she utilizes her HarvardX online course, ...

Read more about HILT Speaker Series: Integrating my online course to improve the classroom experience

Classroom norms: Developing a language of public agreement to eliminate “noise”

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

Emily Click, Into PracticeEmily Click, Assistant Dean for Ministry Studies, Director of Field Education,and Lecturer on Ministry Studies, facilitates a discussion with students early in the semester to agree upon norms for classroom engagement, including how to address any divergent behavior. Students prepare for the conversation by writing a journal reflection that illustrates what is most important to them and what helps them thrive as a learner.   

The benefits: The “language of public agreement”—versus the language... Read more about Classroom norms: Developing a language of public agreement to eliminate “noise”

Lending structure to collaborative work

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

Kathryn Parker BoudettKathryn Parker Boudett, Lecturer on Education, carefully structures the way students learn to collaborate with one another in her course, Data Wise: Using Data to Improve Teaching and Learning. For example, she models collaborative learning through an open discussion of student feedback, or “pluses and deltas,” collected in the previous session with the whole class. She also makes sure students receive plenty of experience putting into practice the ideas from one of the core texts for the course, Meeting Wise: Making the Most of Collaborative Time for Educators. She does ... Read more about Lending structure to collaborative work

Using digital resources to augment course materials

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

Teddy Svoronos Into PracticeTheodore Svoronos, lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, developed digital-learning materials as part of the Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) project and now uses them for both residential and online-learning communities.

The benefits: Svoronos found that the modularity of a BCURE course on Descriptive Evidence allowed him to repurpose the content as introductory material for his residential students in statistics: “BCURE provided rich, interactive examples that policymakers in India and Pakistan had learned from,... Read more about Using digital resources to augment course materials

Mastering course content through creative assignments

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

Kramer_Holbrook_Into PracticeElena Kramer, Bussey Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Noel Michele Holbrook, Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry, co-teach General Education course OEB 52: Biology of Plants through lectures, labs, field trips, and weekly quizzes that students use to combine concepts into a creative project at the end of the semester. The prompt, “Trace the rise of the sporophyte,” results in the production of resources like videos, art pieces, fashion magazines, original songs, poems, and children’s books that students present in an arts festival during the final class. 

The benefits: Students have to refer back to course activities to help crystalize what they’ve been learning all semester, which ultimately helps them prepare for the final exam. Students tell Kramer the creative projects help them better understand course concepts: “It’s not just busy work, it’s not just fun; it actually makes them think about everything they’ve learned through the semester.”

The challenges: A standard grading rubric is difficult to apply to projects produced in various mediums.... Read more about Mastering course content through creative assignments

Identifying knowledge gaps through illustrations

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

Carl Novina, Into PracticeDr. Carl Novina, Associate Professor of Medicine, and his co-instructor Shannon Turley, amended the traditional graduate seminar Critical Reading for Immunology to teach students comprehension and presentation skills essential to a career in biomedical science. To introduce a topic, students read research papers and present a focused background on the field the paper sought to advance. Then, rather than discussing the paper linearly, students select a key figure that best highlighted the main point. Throughout the semester,students revisit central points of papers and diagram them on the white board—“an effective means to help students better process information ... Read more about Identifying knowledge gaps through illustrations

One person’s story as entry to complex historical issues

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

Gabriela Soto LaveagaGabriela Soto Laveaga, Professor of the History of Science, illustrates how combining nineteenth century documents with oral histories can help unpack complex current issues and disrupt certain assumptions on topics such as undocumented border crossings, addiction, and disease along our southern border. All topics are covered in HISTSCI 140 - Public Health on the Border: Race, Politics, and Health in Modern Mexico, in which she challenges students to expand their own perspectives on these current themes through a variety of assignments including an oral history of an individual.

The benfits: Focusing on individual experiences and pairing them with documentary evidence helps students set aside... Read more about One person’s story as entry to complex historical issues

The merits of an equal basis of ignorance

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

Giovanni ParmigianiGiovanni Parmigiani, Professor of Biostatistics, selects new scientific articles as well as opinion pieces for freshman seminar course FRSEMR 22H – My Genes and Cancer to discuss in-the-moment scientific discoveries in genetics research, and encourages students to also recommend topics of interest. This “equal basis of ignorance” establishes an environment where he and his students learn and develop opinions together.

 The benefits:  Less constrained by his expertise, Parmigiani finds students ask the really simple (and hard) questions. They have to wrestle more concretely with moral dilemmas such as the implications of changing the genome of future children, poke holes in each other’s assumptions and arguments, and develop their own voices. This deepens debate and discussion.... Read more about The merits of an equal basis of ignorance