Improving Board Work with Colors

by Yi-Chuan Lu, Physics Teaching Effectiveness Award Essay, 2016 Physics is a subject that describes nature by using precise mathematical language. When we teach physics, it is inevitable to prove equations in addition to explaining the physical phenomena, but it is also the time when students get frustrated. For example, Continue Reading >>

Plant Morphology is Just a Game

by Riva Bruenn, Plant and Microbial Biology Teaching Effectiveness Award Essay, 2016 Plant morphology is a well-organized catalog of vegetative form. Every week students have dozens of plants to illustrate, interpret, and describe in lab, and even more material to cover and review in discussion. In order to finish the Continue Reading >>

Academic Innovation Studio

GSIs are invited to check out the Academic Innovation Studio (AIS). Managed by Educational Technology Services, the facility offers workstations for screen capture, voice recording, and video editing among other things, as well as comfortable spaces for sharing and collaborating on projects. AIS also houses support for bCourses, and instructional equipment. Learn more about Continue Reading >>

Sketching Social Theory Collectively

by Chris Herring, Sociology
While most professors have converted to Power Point, sociology professor Michael Burawoy remains wedded to the blackboard and diagrams relentlessly… [A] primary task became figuring out a way to get my students to take these illustrations as the starting point for discussion rather than the end-point.

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?”

Starting with Art for the First Time

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.

Empowered Learning: History, Collaboratively

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.

Developing Interactive Applets to Help Students Visualize Multivariable Calculus

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.

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.