For many lower-division students, reading is a receptive or decoding process. Give them explicit procedures for making reading a critical, creative process.
by Marianne Kaletzky, Comparative Literature
One of the core principles of literary analysis is that the form of literature — the language an author uses, the way he or she structures the text, and the stylistic conventions he or she employs — means as much as the content. … I wanted to help my students not only to become more attentive to formal features, but also to understand why those formal features matter … To cultivate this understanding, I decided to give my students an unconventional writing assignment …
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.
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.
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.
by Julie Wesp, Anthropology
I wanted to create an environment that would stimulate higher-order learning and instill a deeper understanding and organization of the information. Answering the kind of questions the students were asking did not help them to piece together the parts into a whole; it only insinuated that repetitive memorization was the key to success. In an effort to break this cycle, during the next section I simply stopped answering them.
by Ashley Leyba, History
Over time it became clear to me that, more often than not, the discussions were a showcase of what I, and not my students, found intellectually exciting. I wanted something more for my students.
by Wendy Xin, English
How, I wondered, might one instill an understanding of composition useful to engineering, political science, history, biology, literature, and math majors alike, when the nature of assigned readings across disciplines varied so widely? And how would the class find pleasure in engaging metacritically with the concept of narrative at 8 a.m., a time when most of us aren’t even used to experiencing narrative?
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.
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.