LINK: Preparing students to evaluate evidence and navigate real world issues

Awardees: Stephanie Sasse (FAS), L. Todd Rose (HGSE), and Leah H. Somerville (FAS)

Summary: Awardees will refine six skill-building exercises intended to help students more effectively interpret evidence, and disseminate them to the Harvard teaching community.

Stephanie Sasse, L. Todd Rose, and Leah H. Somerville collaborated to develop empirically informed skill-building tools designed to help students extend their understanding beyond the classroom and to responsibly integrate new evidence into their personal, professional, and political lives. With the aim of ultimately developing six exercises, they piloted two modules initially: recognizing bias and information filters and developing comfort with uncertainty or competing evidence. Each exercise, hosted on a web resource, includes multimedia for classroom integration, worksheets and discussion prompts, as well as links to additional resources and information. The site will be available publicly later this year.

In the HGSE pilot study, the team received valuable feedback on the modules’ concepts and content, most significantly that the “shell” design of the module did not give users a sense of ownership of the content, detracting from the role of the active instructor. Sasse explained that students were not held accountable because they could move through the exercises without actually confronting their thoughts and reactions to the concepts, which would be more difficult to do in a live classroom with an instructor and peers.

In response, Sasse and team worked to redesign the delivery as a “toolkit” for instructors to select components of lesson plans, allowing for more lesson customization, and therefore more active engagement between instructor and student. The toolkit will be designed for use in the classroom, containing modules for instructors to view and use at their discretion along with facilitation guides, annotation capabilities, suggested discussion questions, and key takeaways.

Throughout the process, the team has been invited to present at conferences (including a regular engagement at the Learning & the Brain conference series) and to facilitate workshops for instructor training at other institutions of higher education.

The project is now called “TILT: Twenty-first century Information Literacy Tools,” and was written about in Four-Dimensional Education: The Competencies Learners Need to Succeed by the Center for Curriculum Redesign. You can read more about the model and workshops on The People’s Science website.