Into Practice, a biweekly communication distributed from the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning to active instructors during the academic year was inspired by a successful 2012 HILT grant project. The e-letter highlights the pedagogical practices of individual faculty members from across Schools and delivers timely, evidence-based teaching advice, contributing to and strengthening a University-wide community of practice around teaching.

Below is a catalog of all the Into Practice issues sorted by the publication date. To subscribe to Into Practice, please sign-up via our Mailing List page.

  • Empowering students to develop research skills

    Terence D. Capellini, Richard B Wolf Associate Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, empowers students to grow as researchers in his Building the Human Body course through a comprehensive, course-long collaborative project that works to understand the changes in the genome that make the human skeleton unique. For instance, of the many types of projects, some focus on the genetic basis of why human beings walk on two legs. This integrative “Evo-Devo” project demands high levels of understanding of biology and genetics that students gain in the first half of class, which is then applied hands-on in the second half of class. Students work in teams of 2-3 to collect their own morphology data by measuring skeletons at the Harvard Museum of Natural History and leverage statistics to understand patterns in their data. They then collect and analyze DNA sequences from humans and other animals to identify the DNA changes that may encode morphology. Throughout this course, students go from sometimes having “limited experience in genetics and/or morphology” to conducting their own independent research. This project culminates in a team presentation and a final research paper.
  • Establishing a rigorous and invigorating classroom

    Robert Reid-Pharr, Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and of African American Studies strives to create a “rigorous but not frightening” classroom experience for the course Gender, Sexuality, and the Archive, in which students take turns leading class discussion—presenting thoughts on, challenges to, and questions about course readings derived from essays they have written. With facilitation from Reid-Pharr, their peers then ask difficult questions of the discussion leader that begin to generate meaningful conversation.
  • Motivating students to transition from learning-for-testing to learning-for-learning

    In his Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics course (a core class for physics concentrators) Matthew Schwartz, Professor of Physics, tries to move his students away from a binge-learning exam-based model, common in science classes, to one of sustained learning throughout the semester. To do this, he persuades students to read the course materials before class through comprehensive pre-class quizzes, replaces the midterm with a non-collaborative problem set, and assigns a take-home final weighted the same as two problem sets.
  • Instructional Moves

    IM spotlights reflective instructors from across the university using high-leverage teaching strategies applicable to multiple settings and grounded in teaching and learning research. Moves are anchored in videos that combine class footage with reflections from instructors and students, and these videos are supplemented by relevant research on the move’s efficacy, tips for enacting this move in diverse settings, and related resources that facilitate deeper exploration.
  • Implementing collaborative experimentation

    Rachel Carmody, Assistant Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, explores a burgeoning new field in her course Gut Microbiome and Human Health. The main goals are for students to develop the skills to understand how experiments are designed and conducted, and to critically evaluate existing studies and emerging research papers. Students are challenged to generate new data of their own and run experiments to investigate a predetermined hypothesis individually and collectively during the semester. They regularly discuss the results of their experiments and produce final research papers that use the collective data to explore any aspect of the hypothesis that interests them.
  • Rubric Visualization Project

    Awardees will create a program to transform raw rubric data into an easy-to-understand visualization that shows which part of an assignment students best performed on and which parts they need help with.
  • Designing Your Course

    Course design resources from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, including 1) Backward Design, 2) Functions of the Syllabus, 3) Formative ("low-stakes") vs. Summative ("high-stakes") Assessments, 4) Assignment Modalities, 5) Framing and Sequencing Assignments, and 6) Grading and Responding to Student Work.
  • The Science of Learning

    Key concepts in learning sciences from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, including 1) How Memory Works, 2) Comprehending and Communicating Knowledge, 3) Metacognition and Motivation, and 4) Promoting Engagement.
  • Transforming your syllabus to reach and engage students

    When Katharina Piechocki, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, prepares for a course she has taught before, she significantly changes the syllabus to stay relevant in a rapidly-changing world, respond to students’ (and her own) growing interests, and take advantage of events outside the classroom.
  • Applying the science of behavior change to lesson planning

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

    Cassandra 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.
  • Mastering course content through creative assignments

    Elena 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.
  • Real problems: Teaching theory through practice

    Jelani Nelson, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, assigns students real programming problems in his introductory algorithm courses, CS124Data Structures and Algorithms and CS125 Algorithms & Complexity.
  • Late semester assignments: Recognizing merit through collaboration

    Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor of Law, incorporates collaboration into her late semester assignments in order to provide opportunities for self-improvement and self-reflection.
  • Research assignments: Teaching the production of knowledge

    Ryan Enos, Associate Professor of Government, assigns an original research project—students define a question, design a study, collect data, and present their results—in his undergraduate and graduate political science courses.
  • Multimedia assignments: A doable skill, a usable skill

    Shigehisa (Hisa) Kuriyama, Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History and Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, prefers brief video assignments – where students create a visual presentation with audio narrative – to regular written response papers. “I think the ability to express oneself with media is one of the most usable skills.”
  • Learning through literature: “Closer to life as it is really lived”

    Sandra Sucher, MBA Class of 1966 Professor of Management Practice, teaches “The Moral Leader” at Harvard Business School with a literature-based approach.
  • Hedera: A personalized vocabulary database and readability gauge

    Hedera facilitates the application of second language acquisition research to teaching and learning by enabling users to maintain custom lists of known vocabulary and analyzing texts to see what percentage of words the user knows.
  • Helping students and faculty to optimize preparation for the flipped classroom: using efficiency metrics

    Awardee will use efficiency metrics to study the best preparation methods for a flipped classroom.
  • Revision history analytics in service of analyzing the writing process

    Awardees analyzed revision patterns in student writing, how they relate to activities within specific passages of a written text, and how revision-history analytics can play a role in supporting teaching and improvement in writing skills.
1 2 3