Creative ideas from GSIs for eliciting memorable discussions that help students learn.
by Shelly Steward, Sociology
To make theory a way of seeing and understanding the world, [students] needed to be reminded of it outside of lectures, sections, and assignments. How could I insert sociological ideas into students’ everyday lives beyond the classroom? My strategy to address this problem was to create a course Twitter account.
by Tobias Smith, Jurisprudence and Social Policy
In my sections I reimagine attendance as a weekly opportunity for a brief exchange with my students. In the last few minutes of class I give each student a blank index card to fill out and immediately hand back to me. On the front the student writes the date and her or his name. On the back the student reflects briefly on a prompt.
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.
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.
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?”
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 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!
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.
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.