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Simple examples lead to deep engagement

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

Scot Martin, Into Practice FeatureThree years ago, Scot T. Martin, Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering and Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, decided to “start from scratch” with his approach to teaching thermodynamics. In his course Thermodynamics by Case Study, he found that by focusing on every day, concrete examples (e.g., running, the function of the heart) and demanding an intense level of participation, he could help students unpack ... Read more about Simple examples lead to deep engagement

Balance of agency and flexibility helps students develop their own artistic process

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

Out of appreciation for Professor Shultz’s commitment to flexibility in artistic expression, this issue of Into Practice employs a slightly modified format. 

Nora Schultz, Assistant Professor of Visual and Environmental StudiesNora Schultz, Assistant Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies, encourages experimentation and a diversity of readings for her courses Shape Shifting Your Reality and Object Matter of Jelly Fish: Sculpture Course. Her goal is to create a “structure that gives students the awareness and 'space' to develop their unique creative processes.” One assignment, for example, involves students visiting “The Onion” sculpture by Alexander Calder outside of Harvard’s Pusey Library... Read more about Balance of agency and flexibility helps students develop their own artistic process

Giving students practice with constructive criticism

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

Mark Mulligan, Associate Professor in Practice of Architecture, requires students in Tectonics Lab to work collaboratively on design-build projects of increasing complexity over the course of the semester that are subject to critique by peers, guest experts, and Mulligan himself. For example, with an assignment such as construction of a simple joint between two pieces of wood, “I tell them that we’re actually going to test the joint to its breaking point, so they know that they have to build something that can withstand real force; and to make it fun, ... Read more about Giving students practice with constructive criticism

Inviting guest instructors to teach entrepreneurial theory and practice

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

Jacob OluponaJacob K. Olupona, Professor of African and African American Studies andProfessor of African Religious Traditions, collaborated with students from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013 to develop a team-taught course on entrepreneurship that would appeal to learners across the University. “They felt entrepreneurship was important and central to what people are doing.” Entrepreneurship in Africa is organized topically (e.g., agriculture, energy, healthcare) around the unique challenges... Read more about Inviting guest instructors to teach entrepreneurial theory and practice

Interactive lecturing: High-leverage teaching practices to energize students

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

This issue of Into Practice is adapted from Instructional Moves content produced by the Teaching and Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Paola ArlottaPaola Arlotta, Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, creates an environment of active inquiry, experimentation, and brainstorming by employing interactive lecturing in her course, Got (New) Brain? The Evolution of Brain Regeneration. An approach which spurs discussion that “often spans multiple fields of study.”

The benefits: Her interactive, Socratic teaching style engages students more deeply in the content ... Read more about Interactive lecturing: High-leverage teaching practices to energize students

Hearing their own voice: Consistent student participation while discussing polarizing topics

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

Kamali, Into Practice

Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Assistant Professor of Law, wants to ensure that students contribute consistently throughout the semester: "A student can get into a rut if they don't participate in those first few classes, and it can be very difficult to break that cycle." She uses different models to encourage participation—for example, the Socratic method in larger introductory courses and student-led discussion in smaller seminars—often asking students to adopt non-mainstream arguments. 

The benefits: Compelling student participation brings diverse perspectives—intellectual, demographic, and experiential—to the classroom,... Read more about Hearing their own voice: Consistent student participation while discussing polarizing topics

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”