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.

  • Engaging Students with Difficult Text Through a Flipped Classroom

    Engaging Students with Difficult Text Through a Flipped Classroom

    In his general education courses, Jay Harris, Harry Austryn Wolfson Professor of Jewish Studies, posts two different videos prior to class for students to view: pre-reading videos contextualize and provide guidance for the week’s readings, and lecture videos replace Harris’s in-class lectures on the material. Students then send their questions and comments to Harris through Canvas, which he uses to build the class discussion. 

  • Research-based teaching using a collaborative learning approach

    Research-based teaching using a collaborative learning approach

    Manja Klemenčič, Lecturer on Sociology, has scaled a small research-based seminar course for sociology concentrators to one of Harvard College’s newest general education courses, Higher Education: Students, Institutions, and Controversies. While the previous iteration asked students to conduct an individual research project, the new version emphasizes the importance of group work and collaboration. “Students will learn how to conduct social science research and practice working as a research group exploring issues close to their student experiences.” Projects will culminate in a symposium presentation about student research findings and will be showcased on the platform Harvard Undergraduate Research into Higher Education.

  • Mutually beneficial partnerships

    Mutually beneficial partnerships

    Robert S. Huckman, Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor of Business Administration and Ariel Dora Stern, Poronui Associate Professor of Business Administration pair student groups with local hospitals to address challenges related to access, adoption of new delivery methods, and the quality of care in their elective course, Transforming Healthcare Delivery. This applied work is rooted in a series of cases that have been written by Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty and articles that cover broader ideas from the literature and previous research.

  • Physically inhabiting new and different spaces

    Physically inhabiting new and different spaces

    Virginie Greene, Professor of Romance Languages and Literature, transfers the theme of her Freshman Seminar course, The Grail Quest of Marcel Proust, to the classroom by holding every class session in a different location around the Harvard campus or in the Boston area. “Teaching a freshman seminar allows you to do something a little rash and provoke students. A knight going on a quest never stays in the same spot twice.” Whether they are exploring Sanders Hall, the Harvard Art Museum, or the Boston Public Library, class time is split between exploring the space and discussing the week’s reading.

  • Flipping the classroom for deeper student engagement and feedback on learning

    Flipping the classroom for deeper student engagement and feedback on learning

    L Mahadevan, Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics in SEAS, and Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and of Physics in FAS used a 2017-2018 SEAS Learning Incubator LInc Faculty Fellowship to emphasize active learning in his Mathematical Modeling course. He implemented a flipped classroom approach to enable students to come to class with problems and questions to collaborate on, time to develop their own problems from scratch, and work on modeling with peers. The foundational arc supporting this process has students move from observations through abstraction, analysis and communication, and iteration.

  • Implementing collaborative experimentation

    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.

  • Making multiple perspectives and complexities visible

    Making multiple perspectives and complexities visible

    Benjamin Sommers, Professor of Health Policy and Economics, finishes his Healthcare Safety Net and Vulnerable Populations course with a debate: students are randomly assigned to roles—as senators, witnesses, or experts—and probe aspects of healthcare policy, simulating deliberations that take place on the Senate floor. Somewhat similar to real hearings, each witness makes an opening statement and then takes questions from acting Senators.

  • 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.

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