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.

  • Incorporating social support and love into the classroom

    Incorporating social support and love into the classroom

    Gretchen Brion-Meisels, Lecturer on Education, focuses on ensuring that holistic support is apparent and felt deeply in her classroom. From listing mental health resources on all her syllabi to convening opening circles to build relationships at the start of class, Brion-Meisels incorporates ways of “checking in.” In her course Establishing Loving Spaces for Learning, students are asked to keep reflective journals and share them with a peer to engage in a conversation around their experiences. “Fundamentally, my biggest goal is to normalize the idea that everyone needs support. We’re all works-in-progress, learning and growing, but also with a lot to contribute to each other’s growth.”

  • Helping students see themselves as scientists

    Helping students see themselves as scientists

    When Dr. Kevin Eggan, Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, did research as an undergraduate, it “transformed for me what science was and what it could be.” His Precision Genetics and Gene Therapy year-long course offers sophomores a similar opportunity. In the fall, students are introduced to a “jamboree of recent medical discoveries in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).” Working in small groups, they explore and then choose a gene to focus on. In the spring, they continue in small groups to experiment on mice, learn tools for analyzing the data they generate, and present to their peers, instructors, and external experts along the way.

  • Engaging real-world stakeholders to provide feedback to students

    Engaging real-world stakeholders to provide feedback to students

    Jal David Mehta, Associate Professor of Education, directs students to use design thinking and interact with real-world stakeholders when making proposals to improve educational systems in his course Deeper Learning for All: Designing a 21st-Century School System. At the end of the semester, students present final projects to panels of educational experts ranging from superintendents to K-12 teachers to Harvard Graduate School of Education faculty.

  • Structuring intellectual collaboration and play

    Structuring intellectual collaboration and play

    Emily Dolan, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of the Humanities, co-teaches the graduate seminar Instruments and Instrumentalities with Professor and James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology Jonathan Sterne of McGill University in which students from both Harvard and McGill (representing a range of disciplines) engage with one another via audio and video conferencing, trips to each campus, online documents, and other tools.

  • Using a student cohort to test and innovate new training materials

    Using a student cohort to test and innovate new training materials

    Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein, Clinical Professors of Law, pull back the curtain on pedagogy for students in the seminar Advanced Skills Training in Strategic Human Rights Advocacy by making them part of a learning community and giving them ownership over the learning process. For example, each year students work to improve simulations in which they originally were participants, in an earlier prerequisite seminar attached to the International Human Rights Clinic.

  • Enhancing student learning through field experience

    Enhancing student learning through field experience

    Gonzalo Giribet, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, takes students in his course Biology and Evolution of Invertebrate Animals (co-taught this semester with Professor Cassandra Extavour) to Panama to do fieldwork during spring break to help them see how invertebrate animals “are assembled in nature,” and how “organisms are integrated into systems.” Students incur no costs for the trip thanks to funding from the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

  • Applying human-centered design processes to build successful teams

    Applying human-centered design processes to build successful teams

    Bethanne Altringer, Senior Preceptor in Innovation and Design and Director of the Desirability Lab, uses personalized approaches to students’ learning in courses like The Innovator's Practice: Finding, Building and Leading Good Ideas with Others and Design Survivor: Experiential Lessons in Designing for Desirability, focusing on individual-level growth that leads to team effectiveness by grading both process and product.

  • Conveying large amounts of material efficiently and clarifying complex ideas

    Conveying large amounts of material efficiently and clarifying complex ideas

    Tyler VanderWeele, John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology, uses lectures to integrate and illuminate core concepts, bringing new insights to students and sometimes for his own scholarship in the process. His courses—on religion and public health, on applied statistics, and on research design—often cross disciplinary boundaries and involve unexpected combinations of ideas. 

  • Enriching learning through student-led provocation

    Enriching learning through student-led provocation

    Though Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Lecturer on History and Literature, Public Policy, and Education, plays an integral role in class discussions for his course Stories of Slavery and Freedom, students are responsible for leading the majority of classes through an exercise McCarthy refers to as “provocation.” “The provokers do not come in and give a summary of what we’ve read or a mini-lecture about the top-line themes that might emerge from the assigned readings. I really want them to find some way to literally provoke us into conversation, get the juices flowing, and try to get all the students to think about something urgently at the outset of class.”

  • Pushing students to confront limits by transforming the abstract to physical form

    Pushing students to confront limits by transforming the abstract to physical form

    In her Transformations course, Assistant Professor of Architecture Megan Panzano uses architectural design methods and concepts, and a workshop approach for giving feedback, to engage undergraduates from a wide range of concentrations. When students translate abstract ideas into physical form through a variety of materials and fabrication techniques (see photos below), they confront limits, question assumptions, and expand their problem-solving capacity.

  • Using faculty videos in required courses to engage students at all levels

    Using faculty videos in required courses to engage students at all levels

    Like many instructors of required courses, Pinar Dogan, Lecturer in Public Policy and SLATE Faculty Liaison for Pedagogy, teaches her section of Markets and Market Failure to students with significantly divergent levels of prior knowledge of microeconomics. Seeking a way for students “to end up at the same place even though they started at very different places,” Dogan partnered with SLATE to develop videos of Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) faculty experts explaining the relevance of math-intensive or potentially dry concepts (e.g., fixed costs or price elasticity) to public policy. 

  • Understanding culture through material artifacts

    Understanding culture through material artifacts

    Students in Japanese art and architecture courses taught by Yukio Lippit, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, often encounter cultures quite different from their own.  Lippit immerses them in those cultures through deep engagement with material artifacts, by examining roof tiles or carpentry, visiting the Japanese house at the Boston Children’s Museum, or participating in a tea ceremony.  

  • Moving from passive learning to active exploration of the physical world

    Moving from passive learning to active exploration of the physical world

    Scott Edwards, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), makes extensive use of the museum’s ornithology collections in his courses and brings specimens into his lecture sessions to engage students in close analysis during weekly three-hour labs. Edwards models “ways of making meaning” by looking to specimens as key evidence for testing claims and theories.

  • Using ethnographic research to improve students’ qualitative literacy

    Using ethnographic research to improve students’ qualitative literacy

    In distinguishing fact from opinion, quantitative information is often seen as more reliable, but Mario Luis Small, Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology, wants students also to see the value of qualitative data for assessing such claims. In his course Qualitative Network Analysis, he requires students to analyze empirical research (including their own ethnographic cases) with a qualitative lens and thoroughly evaluate “authors who believe they’re making a defensible claim about some aspect of society.”

  • Bringing the best parts of a seminar into larger courses

    Bringing the best parts of a seminar into larger courses

    When enrollment for seminar After Luther: Faith, Will, Law, and the Question of Goodness doubled last year, Michelle Sanchez, Assistant Professor of Theology, was concerned that the depth and quality of the connections—with and among students and the texts they read together—would diminish. In response, she modified some logistical elements including assigning different pairs of students to circulate brief response papers before class and then lead discussion each week.

  • Building soft skills through applied practice

    Building soft skills through applied practice

    Michael I. Norton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration, uses experiential exercises to help students build strong foundations for collaborative work. In the FIELD Foundations course, students practice and refine their self-awareness, social awareness, and team effectiveness through activities such as identity mapping and the marshmallow challenge.

  • Transforming your syllabus to reach and engage students

    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.

  • Simple examples lead to deep engagement

    Simple examples lead to deep engagement

    Three years ago, Scot T. Martin decided to “start from scratch” with his approach to teaching thermodynamics. He found that by focusing on every day, concrete examples (e.g., running, the function of the heart) he could help students rediscover and truly understand the fundamental laws.

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

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

    Nora 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.

  • Giving students practice with constructive criticism

    Giving students practice with constructive criticism

    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.

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