Team-based learning in the humanities

Awardee: Bernhard Nickel (FAS)

Summary: Awardee will redesign a course with team-based learning (TBL) principles and assess the benefits and challenges of the approach.

In the humanities, a main teaching goal is for students to critically engage with the material and use it to advance their own thinking, while receiving critical guidance from their professor. Team-based learning (TBL) is a pedagogical approach that allows students to be more active in the learning process, but gives the professor a more central part in providing feedback on the work that students do in class.

Professor Bernhard Nickel will redesign his introductory-level course, PHIL 3 – The True and the Good, to incorporate team-based learning principles during the 2017-2018 academic year. Students will take assessments at the start of class to ensure they are ready to apply the readings both individually and as a team. Teams can appeal in writing if they disagree with the professor’s answers, citing evidence from readings.

When tasked with making a specific judgment or decision, Nickel will utilize the 4S-model where the class will work together on the same significant problem and report simultaneously on a specific choice or decision. Nickel will measure the benefits and challenges of TBL, and share findings across Harvard humanities departments with the hope that the pedagogy may eventually be added to the College’s curriculum.