Becoming Your Own Dictionary: Increasing Participation and Communicative Confidence through Semiotic Brainstorming

by Emily A. Hellmich, French (Home Department: Education)
I realized that while my students did have passionate opinions as well as a desire to communicate them, they hesitated: not knowing one specific word represented an insurmountable barrier to them that shut down communication and sent them running to a more expert resource… I led the students in the creation of a “semiotic brainstorm” meant to show them not only just how much French they already knew but also to detail, step-by-step, one way to access this knowledge in communication.

What Is It to Truly ‘See’ and How to Deal with the Unseen

By Alexandra Courtois de Vicose, History of Art
When confronted with a Monet water landscape last spring and asked, “What do you see?” [my students] rightly answered, “A boat.” “You understand this shape as a boat because, culturally, you know what a boat looks like. Keep in mind, however, this is but an amalgamation of pigment on a two-dimensional surface. So, really, what do you see?”

Achieving Widespread Participation through Evidence-Based Classroom Discourse

by Elise Piazza, Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies (Home Department: Vision Science)
On my first day as a graduate student instructor for Introduction to Cognitive Science, I noticed that participation was limited to a few students, while the rest sat silently, either intimidated or bored…As an experimental psychologist, I decided to introduce my scientific approach to teaching by turning our discussion section into an experiment.

Consensus Techniques for Learning Together

by Genevieve Painter, Legal Studies (home department Jurisprudence and Social Policy)
Sorting through masses of research is a key learning objective of the reading and composition seminar. Students reported feeling overwhelmed as they confronted a wealth of sources and ideas in preparing their final papers. What is one way that participatory social movements deal with analyzing an excess of information? Card clustering!

Breaking Down the Barriers Inhibiting Effective Learning Environments

by Yekaterina Miroshnikova, Molecular and Cell Biology (Home Department: Bioengineering)
I decided to set up an unconventional discussion section environment… I strategically utilized the uneven playing field in students’ prior knowledge to our benefit by facilitating team-based learning…[and] I taught the entirety of the material in a hands-on and application-based style.

Fostering the Ability to Think Like an Experimenter in a Lecture Course

by Daniel Bliss, Molecular and Cell Biology (Home Department: Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute)
Their proficiency at internalizing and recalling textbook-level explanations had led them astray. My challenge, I realized, was to help them be able to switch into the thinking mode of an experimenter.

Making and Supporting an Argument

by Margot Szarke, French
Many students feel challenged when asked to analyze a literary or cinematic work because there is a certain amount of intellectual freedom involved in the task… How can a text or film be successfully and meaningfully interpreted in multiple ways? How can references and textual details be used to effectively build up an argument?

Confidence and the Character of Discussion: Attending to Framing Effects

by Lindsay Crawford, Philosophy
By making students more conscious of the degree to which modes of presentation shape the seemingly neutral space of discussion, the students who tended to feel intimidated by more assertive students came to realize that many of the factors that encourage and shape their feelings of intimidation are irrelevant to the quality of the positions being evaluated.

‘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.