Teaching Quantitative Optical Filter Choice as Part of Practical Microscopy

by Neil Switz, Biophysics
My objective was to remedy the limitations of existing, theory-based classes by allowing students to learn the practical optical techniques and theory for microscopy via hands-on experience and instruction in the practical techniques used by optical engineers but not emphasized in textbooks.

Bringing Astronomy Down to Earth: A Teaching Strategy That Helps Develop Intuition

by Aaron Lee, Astronomy
I found that students were far too trusting of their calculators, possibly due to a fear of math, and they blindly accepted whatever the calculator returned. My solution…was to include weekly activities that taught students how to relate new concepts to familiar experiences to develop their intuition about the subject matter.

Using Prediction, Competition, and Reflection to Make Connections in Calculus II

by Danielle Champney, Education, SESAME
I view Calculus II as more than just a solution-finding mission or strategy game. Students will learn little or resort to untested pattern-matching if I simply tell them what method to use each time they encounter a new problem! Learning how concepts in class are reflected in procedures used to solve problems is, to me, a core principle of the course.

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.

Teaching Young Scientists to Speak the Way They Think

by Seemay Chou, Molecular and Cell Biology
I found that the problem was not rooted in lack of comprehension but an imprecision in their scientific language, owing to their lack of experience in the field. They felt that they knew the answers but could not express what they were trying to say…They needed to think and speak in the same language as scientists.

Training Molecular MacGyvers Using the Immunologist’s Toolbox

by Nicholas Arpaia, Molecular and Cell Biology
I designed what I called the Immunologist’s Toolbox, a running list of techniques that the students could refer to when it came time for them to design experiments. They were able to draw from this list to act like molecular MacGyvers and use the reagents that they were given in particular scenario-based questions to answer them.

Now Students, Don’t Forget to Play your Video Games

by John DeNero, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The course’s original syllabus began with a conceptual roadmap of how various problems related to each other. But since our students didn’t understand the individual problems yet, they didn’t understand the purpose of the framework…To infuse continuity into the course, I designed a series of projects around Pacman, a classic video game with lots of retro charm.

Making the Connections: Dissecting Fatty Acid Biosynthesis

by Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Chemistry
As a GSI, I fell back on the question that has guided me through countless teaching experiences: when I was trying to learn this topic, what did I wish a GSI had told me to make it truly click in my mind? What allowed me to break past the memorization barrier to deeper understanding?

A Voice in the Sciences

by Ryan Steele, Chemistry
I had to humbly undergo a transformation that allowed me to let the students’ discussion guide the session. Frankly, I had to shut up. Letting students speak and make mistakes does not mean conceding control of the classroom or the teacher’s sense of authority.