This event, jointly hosted by the Research-Informed Teaching & Learning (RITL) and Learning Design HILT Affinity Groups, will summarize the scholarly research informing the “ungrading” movement and explore the implications of ungrading for teaching and learning in higher education. Participants will have the opportunity to collaboratively analyze interdisciplinary case studies of ungrading practices. Additionally, we will share resources and approaches that you can implement in your own professional practice as instructors or education developers.
In a follow-on to HILT's 2021 Conference, Harvard faculty from STEM and non-STEM disciplines will share how their students learn about climate change through various lenses. James H. Stock, Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability and the Harold Hitchings Burbank Professor of Political Economy, will provide an overview of climate education at Harvard and serve as moderator of this discussion.
The HILT Learning Spaces Affinity Group will host a panel discussion around the topic of flat flexible classroom space, via Zoom. We will hear from your colleagues from across Harvard about their experience setting up, supporting, and teaching in classrooms with flexible furniture and a flat design, allowing for varied arrangements and various pedagogies. We will have an honest discussion about the successes, as well as the challenges of this type of learning space. Come with your wonderings and curiosities. There will be time for you to ask questions of our panelists.
A primary goal of HBS Online was to build a platform to bring active, social, and case-based learning experiences to asynchronous online learners. It was also a goal to instrument this platform to facilitate learning analytics and measurement to allow for the study and improvement of the learning experience. Brent Benson will talk about what makes the HBS Online platform and pedagogy different, how metrics and analytics are captured and stored, and give specifics around social engagement and procrastination metrics and how they are being used to improve learning experience and outcomes, especially among under-represented and diverse participant subgroups.
Matthew Potts, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, teaches Introduction to Ministry Studies, a cohort introductory course designed for graduate students who intend to go into the interreligious ministry broadly. His course offers an introduction that spans a variety of religions and simultaneously cultivates a sense of community amongst students. While the course was traditionally conducted in a lecture format with some section discussions, Potts had to rethink the course’s structure completely when it shifted online amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “I wanted to get people off screen,” he explains. Rather than sitting through a live lecture, students listened to podcasts of Potts and the teaching team conversing about the readings prior to each class. To ensure students would also engage with him directly, Potts also organized Oxford-style tutorials, with students meeting in groups of two or three and with a different member of the teaching team to discuss the course material. Students would write a one-page memo reflecting on the readings and present it to get the conversation going. “I wanted a place for students to come and continue the conversation and feel invested in what they had read or what they had listened to, but not in any burdensome way.”
Robin Gottlieb, Professor of the Practice of Teaching Mathematics, aims to make mathematics accessible and exciting to all students in each of her courses. “When students come to Harvard, they have very different but set ideas of what happens in the classroom,” Gottlieb explains. “In many high school math classrooms, the dominant cultural norm is an ‘I do, you do, we do’ model. The teacher is expected to tell you what to do. One of my main objectives is to shift the culture of the classroom so that students become mathematical thinkers.” Gottlieb works alongside colleagues on the preceptor team to construct classrooms in which students actively participate in the development of ideas. Inspired by colleagues’ such as Eric Mazur’s active learning and John Asher Johnson’s Tao of TALC, Gottlieb has students spend more time working on problems together in groups at the blackboard, reflect actively on questions and lessons from daily problem sets, and co-build community norms around supportive teamwork. Through group work, Gottlieb has developed mathematics classrooms that are more welcoming, active, and empowering places of learning.
Senior Lecturers Archie Jones, Henry McGee, and Jeffrey Bussgang teamed up to design a new Harvard Business School (HBS) course, Scaling Minority Businesses, in which students learn about the unique challenges of Black-owned businesses. Students are grouped into teams and paired with one of ten Black entrepreneurs in the Boston area, support their business’s strategic initiatives, and assist in their continued growth. The instructors designed the class around three modules: (1) systemic racism’s impact on wealth creation more broadly, which established for students, as Professor Jones put it, “where we are and how we got there;” (2) access to capital, including what organizations can do and how the market needs to engage differently with Black-owned businesses; and (3) access to customers, for instance supplier diversity programs and how to get the first big contract. Given the lack of traditional cases about minority businesses and their challenges, the instructors designed “live cases,” with the Black business leaders visiting the class and students working with them in real-time. The professors invited a range of class speakers, including experts from the Brookings Institution and Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.
Dr. Phuong Pham, Assistant Professor and Director of Humanitarian Studies, teaches the required course for HSPH Humanitarian Studies Concentrators, Field Methods in Humanitarian Crises, and oversees a set of ongoing online modules titled, “Build a Better Response.” Dr. Pham stresses the need to ground studies within reality through experiential learning. She and others have created a library of case studies for students to practice analyzing complex scenarios. In addition, they collaborate with an expansive network of people each year to pull off a remarkable feat: a weekend-long humanitarian response simulation at Harold Parker State Forest where the students navigate an assigned role within a real-life humanitarian crisis simulation. “We try to provide students the opportunity to engage with a scripted real-life scenario. It gives them a tangible way to interact with simulated situations other than reading a text and listening to secondhand stories.”
Christina Warinner, Associate Professor of Anthropology, empowers students to explore real-world, thorny topics in science that also have widespread social implications through course work and guest speakers. She brings her own experience as an interdisciplinary researcher to the classroom and directly supports students as they delve into more complex material and learn how to navigate the hidden curriculum (norms of the discipline). Her students practice grappling with interdisciplinary dilemmas in realistic ways. “I want each assignment a student does to be both knowledge-building and skill-building,” she explains. Her courses attract students from both the humanities and sciences, creating a more intellectually diverse learning environment.
In a follow-on to HILT's 2021 Conference, we will learn how Embedded EthiCS meets the challenge of making ethical reasoning integral to computer science education. We'll explore how embedding philosophers directly into computer science courses helps students learn how to think through the ethical and social implications of their work. And we'll take a deeper dive into the nuts and bolts of the collaborative Teaching Lab.
We have experienced so many changes to our work that now that we transition into another academic year, we thought it would be a good time to check in on our community to hear how you are doing, what you are experiencing in your virtual or in-person work and what challenges you anticipate having as well as what lessons you have learned. We want to come together to learn that we are not alone in all these challenges and wins together.
Hong Qu, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, taught Data Visualization virtually last spring to over 70 students from different Harvard Schools, levels of experience, and corners of the world. To foster a close-knit community among students from diverse backgrounds, Qu intentionally curated a set of online tools and learning exercises to generate an “ambient telepresence.” For instance, he assigned group data visualization projects to promote peer learning and used VoiceThread for assigned peer critiques. During synchronous class time, students were invited to sketch with Qu using Jamboard on the shared screen—a novel form of participation to draw out the inner artist/designer in every student. “I wanted to give them a sense that we’re spending time with each other in this very challenging period to learn as a community, to work together on group projects, and to achieve organic connections and authentic relationships between all our unique places during this pandemic.”
Last year while many of us were working remotely, Houghton and Countway libraries were getting a makeover. Kristine Greive from Houghton Library will lead us on a virtual tour of Houghton’s renovation highlighting the ways that students engage with their unique collections post renovation. Luciana Witowski from Countway will show how she and her team used high-resolution 3D scans of building interiors, created by the Harvard Visualization Lab, to design their virtual tour which includes their new Anatomage Lab.
Professors Paul Farmer and Arthur Kleinman share a passion for teaching students how to tackle real-world problems. In this follow-on event to HILT's 2021 annual conference, the professors will discuss their respective pedagogical approaches. Farmer will offer insights about how teaching and learning have responded to an international public health crisis and Kleinman will address how to use the practice of care to fight cynicism when it comes to addressing big problems.
Carrie Conaway, Senior Lecturer, and James Kim, Professor of Education, teach the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s new foundational course, Evidence. The course trains students to understand and apply a variety of evidence to a real-life problem of practice. In order to learn about different types of evidence and how to apply it to solve real-world problems, students work in small teams using team-based learning (TBL). Conaway and Kim use survey data to construct teams that are diverse in terms of background, program, and comfort with different types of evidence. Each group activity is centered around a different component of a case developed from Kim’s research. The activities culminate in final recommendations for how to improve literacy outcomes for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina.
Formative assessment tools can greatly enhance the learning experience of our students. However, standard surveying tools seldom have the flexibility we need to capture and mirror back responses in just the right way. With PowerApps, we can quickly build flexible applications while also leveraging Microsoft’s security benefits. Speaker: Felipe Estrada-Prada, Sr. Learning Technologist, HGSE.
Fawwaz Habbal, Executive Dean for Education and Research and Senior Lecturer on Applied Physics, and Doris Sommer, Ira Jewell Williams, Jr. Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies, co-teach systems-level thinking. Their course, Aesthetic Pleasure and Smart Design: Janus Faces the Future, trains students to look at complex problems from the perspective of both artists and engineers. This requires the development of skills in scientific assessment and disinterested aesthetic judgment. In the spirit of Renaissance Now, an international movement to promote sustainable development, Habbal and Sommer model the combination of boldness and humility. Students in ES 27 read and reflect on material which ranges from aesthetic philosophy and history to triggers for scientific revolution. Then they tackle a complex problem through a proposal that will gain aesthetic acceptance and be scientifically effective.
Much like all our faculty across the University, Dr. Tamara Kaplan, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, shifted the pre-clinical neuroscience course, Mind, Brain, and Behavior, to a remote learning space this past year. In addition to considering curricular materials, Dr. Kaplan and her team agreed that it was especially important to think about the learning environment and students’ social connection with the material, the teaching faculty, and other students. As a result, they developed several systems to foster this social sense of community and “combat the sense of isolation and disconnectedness that can result from online learning” in her class. All course instructors recorded three-minute introductory videos about both their career/research and personal interests. Dr. Kaplan used Canvas to send students daily announcements with learning objectives, key points that came up that day in class, and friendly support. A balance of synchronous and asynchronous communication was used to minimize student burnout and make sure students stayed engaged. Finally, the team built in time for genuine connection with daily half-hour breaks between classes for students to get to know faculty and ask questions. Dr. Kaplan notes, “we realized that creating relationships with faculty is a huge driver of a positive learning environment.”
Zac Wang, HILT’s Senior Manager for Resources Adoption and Impact in VPAL, will discuss Canvas Dashboards-Lessons Learned, and later we will try to identify some of our community needs for Zac to bring back to VPAL.
The 2021 annual HILT Conference will explore how we teach students to become global agents of change. Our plenary session will consider how our collective experiences in remote teaching and learning allowed us to rethink our models of instruction, community building, and curriculum. Breakout sessions will explore the various ways instructors can equip students to confront ongoing world-wide challenges through active learning, collaborative groups, and engaged scholarship.