The End of Romance: Teaching Students to Rethink ‘Wild’ Africa

by Amy Wolfson, African American Studies
One of the most poignant challenges I faced while teaching…was grappling with the preconceived notions and biases about Africa that students bring to the classroom. Romanticized and exoticized as wild, uncivilized, and mystical, Africa is often portrayed in the media as a homogenous space full of wild animals, warring tribes, and dictators…For most of [my students], Africa had modern problems, but no modern cultures.

Incorporating Active Learning and Technology into Teaching Economics

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.

‘Is This Right?’ Building Confidence in Scientific Reasoning

by Francesca Fornasini, Astronomy
I realized that they had little or no confidence in their answers and that they did not have any strategies for assessing the reasonableness of their solutions. Therefore, I tried to incorporate into my discussion sections a variety of strategies to help my students test the reasonableness of their answers.

Providing Skills, Not Summaries: Improving Reading Comprehension in Political Theory

by Mark Fisher, Political Science
This…made me think quite differently about the GSI’s role in section…While our first impulse is often to try and “translate” the lecture into an idiom they are more comfortable with, this experience convinced me that the greatest service we can perform for students is to teach them the skills needed to speak our language.

References without Referents (Or, How My Class Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Thomas Pynchon)

by Sarah Chihaya, Comparative Literature
How could I possibly communicate the intertextual quality central to the novel’s style to my students, when most of them didn’t have the exhaustive literary and historical background that Pynchon’s proliferating cultural references — which swing wildly from erudite literary digs, to Sixties-specific pop cultural allusions, to puerile humor — seem to demand?

Self-Portraiture as a Teaching Tool

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.

A Pre-Lab Assignment for a More Efficient and Effective Laboratory

by Jessica Smith, Chemistry
Prepared students are slow because they meticulously follow the directions rather than thinking critically about the purpose of each step…Students of science become scientists as they begin to comprehend how different steps contribute to an experiment rather than blindly following directions.

Free in Theory: Teaching Gender in Historical Perspective

by Gina Zupsich, French
For my students, gender was, and had always been, a personal choice. The queer literature we were studying was fantasy indeed to students in a post-feminist world on an LGTBQ-friendly campus….If we were to understand the radical messages of our texts, I realized that I would have to put these theories into historical perspective and in living color.

Applying Economic Concepts to Environmental Problems

by Shanthi Nataraj, Agricultural & Resource Economics (Home Department: Economics)
I noticed that the students’ analyses of environmental issues in their problem sets improved. Most students still stated strong opinions about environmental issues – but now, they were able to back up their opinions with economic reasoning.

The Power of Observation ‘in situ’ (By Proxy)

by Justin Underhill, History of Art
After 20 minutes of excited measurement and discussion, the groups disbanded and I led a very successful discussion about San Francesco della Vigna. Students challenged one another and made observations that I had not noticed. I always know I have succeeded when my students teach me how to look anew.