Beyond Bean Counting: A New Laboratory to Teach the Concepts of Microevolution

by Sonja Schwartz, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
My goal for this laboratory was to engage students of all learning styles by using a combination of passive and active, visual and auditory, and conceptual and applied activities. By reinforcing the material this way, I wanted to get beyond endless bean counting to more effectively teach my students key concepts of evolution.

Self-Portraiture as a Teaching Tool

by William Coleman, History of Art
It was my hope that paintings that have meant so much to me could be made to speak anew…[that] canvases laden with allegorical references would become legible again, equipping our group of newcomers with crucial analytical skills for the course…Despite best laid plans, it became apparent early in the semester that many students found these complex paintings…utterly incomprehensible.

Teaching Basic Musicianship: An Ode to Chaos

by Emily Frey, Music
The lowly sounding course title is thus deceptive; teaching Basic Musicianship II is a baptism by fire. Desperate times, I thought when I received the assignment, called for experimental measures. With its mélange of skills, requirements, and student backgrounds, 20B is chaotic by nature, and it seemed unproductive to try to work against that.

Creating a Research Community

by Natalia Cecire, English
The project was designed to produce a scholarly community that would provide an intellectual context for research findings. Yet because the community was composed of students, all with similar experiences with nineteenth-century literature, the debates occurred in terms that were meaningful to the students at their particular stage of exposure to literary criticism, rather than in the remoter terms of my discipline.

The E7 Robot Tournament

by Ko-Ay Timmy Siauw, College of Engineering
E7 students…spend a great deal of time on their homework but have very little to show for it at the end of the week…I recognized a teaching problem that could be remedied, and thus I created a solution that would allow..students to learn MATLAB in a fun — yet challenging — environment: the E7 Robot Tournament.

From Theory to Obama: Innovative Teaching Methods to Increase Participation

by Zoe Harris, Public Health
One morning, my classroom was abuzz with a debate over whether to vote yes or no on Proposition 2…Instead of my original lesson plan, carefully typed up with several handouts, I sat and listened to their debate. Students who only spoke when I cold-called them were the center of the discussion. “STOP!” I raised my arms while students glared at me nervously. “Today, we are going to apply Wilson’s theory of concentrated versus diffuse interests to decide which way you would vote on Proposition 2.” (Stunned looks all around.)

Externalizing Analyses and Bridging Sub-Disciplines

by Molly Babel, Linguistics
I find the largest problem in teaching a class like Linguistics 110 is keeping the intellectually split student body focused, interested, and comprehending the material at hand. I have found the key to this problem is to provide students with theoretically relevant real-world linguistic examples.

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.

Searching for the ‘Big Picture’

by Ladan Foose, Chemical Engineering
My goal was to figure out how to address this lack of “big picture” understanding in my sections and office hours, while still getting to the material I was asked to cover by the instructor and the many homework questions that the students had. My favorite tool is actually very simple. Some of my students call it “storybook time.”