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.

To Risk an Argument: Tweeting towards Independent Theses in English R1B

by Kathryn Fleishman, English
Challenged with independent critical thinking and absorbed in a network of ideas that reached out of our classroom and into their everyday lives, my students developed the willingness to risk an argument along with a strong grasp of the research process. … [S]tudents polished the opinions they had proffered as tweets and comments into solid theses for their individual research projects, transforming uncertain, visceral reactions into logical, distinctive arguments.

Interpretation as Staging: A Lesson in Dramatic Literature

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.

A Solution for Inclusion: Keeping Advanced Students Stimulated Without Leaving Others Behind

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.

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.

Encouraging Full Participation in Section

by Suzanne Scoggins, International and Area Studies (Home Department: Political Science)
When a few students dominate, it diminishes the opportunity to hear different voices. This pattern, once established, worsens with time, and by the end of a semester, only a handful of students may be participating in section…Once I began asking groups of two to participate in section, I noticed a marked improvement in overall participation rates. Prior to using this strategy, a “good” section was one in which about half of the students spoke in class. After focusing on groups of two, I found that an “average” discussion was one in which all but one or two students spoke up.

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!

Seeing for Yourself

by Ryan Turner, Astronomy (Home Department: Earth and Planetary Science)
Not everything we learn in school is easily quantified, and the goal of the C12 star party did not include specific learning objectives. The effectiveness of the project was measured in oohs and aahs as students took their first look through the eyepiece.

Problem Solving and the Random Number Generator

by Justin Hollenback, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Based on the mistakes the students were making, I felt that the example problems I presented weren’t conveying the material as well as I wanted. Students did not appear engaged or actively learning during lecture. In response, I developed a strategy … to make the process of working out example problems in class more interactive.

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.