Elaine Yau, History of Art
I have often noted that students who have never had an art history course can be overwhelmed by a commonplace assumption that artistic “masterpieces” are self-evidently great. This point of departure usually results in hackneyed discussions about beauty, perfection, or “pinnacles of civilization.” I wanted my first writing assignment to provide a structured, accessible process for formal analysis that would equip students with a vocabulary from which to build their own interpretations confidently — to treat paintings as primary sources from a moment in history.
Elaine Yau, History of Art
by Jordan Greenwald, Comparative Literature
I…came to realize that this lesson could not be learned through class discussion alone, since asking these questions while leading discussion is pedagogically less effective than getting students to ask those questions themselves. I therefore decided, with the encouragement of my co-instructor, to design a group assignment that would familiarize students with the choices one makes when bringing a dramatic text to life.
by Jesse Cordes Selbin, English
I believe that education functions best when students are not merely passive recipients, but collaborative creators, of knowledge. To that end, I designed an ongoing assignment wherein students used online software to contribute to a collective historical timeline of the nineteenth century…The function of the timeline was primarily informational: it was intended to give a deeper understanding of a historical era. But its crucial secondary function was to ask students to reconceptualize their own role as creators and perpetrators of historical narrative.
by Thunwa Theerakarn, Mathematics
For many concepts in this subject, having geometric intuition is very helpful for a better understanding. However, many students struggle to visualize these concepts because they cannot actually “see” them…To help students develop geometric thinking, I used Mathematica to create interactive applets that can display multiple three-dimensional graphics at the same time and can overlay extra information on those graphics.
by Nadia Kurd, Molecular and Cell Biology
I was frustrated to find that any time I catered to the more advanced students and presented more challenging topics, the rest of the class struggled to follow along; whereas when I continued to conduct class at a level where most of the students were comfortable, the advanced students again lost interest. In an attempt to remedy this problem, I decided to try to develop “interactive” worksheets for class.
by Julie Wesp, Anthropology
I wanted to create an environment that would stimulate higher-order learning and instill a deeper understanding and organization of the information. Answering the kind of questions the students were asking did not help them to piece together the parts into a whole; it only insinuated that repetitive memorization was the key to success. In an effort to break this cycle, during the next section I simply stopped answering them.
by Laurence Coderre, East Asian Languages and Cultures
My…students were having difficulty understanding how to approach literary texts beyond the simple recapitulation of plot. Focusing on what a given reading said, they rarely considered the significance of how it was conveyed….Ming dynasty xiao pin wen, or “short personal essays,” in which authors write in great detail about frivolous or mundane things, offered me an opportunity to address this concept, and students’ difficulties in grappling with it, head on.
by Sonja Schwartz, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
My goal for this laboratory was to engage students of all learning styles by using a combination of passive and active, visual and auditory, and conceptual and applied activities. By reinforcing the material this way, I wanted to get beyond endless bean counting to more effectively teach my students key concepts of evolution.
by Marquise McGraw, Economics
I innovated by…creat[ing] an exercise that required students to integrate multiple concepts and skills to solve…This type of activity proved to be much more effective in promoting student learning than the standard “chalk and talk” delivery.
by William Coleman, History of Art
It was my hope that paintings that have meant so much to me could be made to speak anew…[that] canvases laden with allegorical references would become legible again, equipping our group of newcomers with crucial analytical skills for the course…Despite best laid plans, it became apparent early in the semester that many students found these complex paintings…utterly incomprehensible.