The Semester-Long Research Project Reimagined

by Tammy Stark, Linguistics
As a solution to the related problems of limited time and a lack of incentive to carry out scholarly research on final papers, I decided to make the final project a Wikipedia assignment, in which students worked in groups to significantly improve Wikipedia pages related to sociolinguistic topics relevant to their independent research interests…

Moving Beyond Plot Summary: Doing Things with Words

by Laurence Coderre, East Asian Languages and Cultures
My…students were having difficulty understanding how to approach literary texts beyond the simple recapitulation of plot. Focusing on what a given reading said, they rarely considered the significance of how it was conveyed….Ming dynasty xiao pin wen, or “short personal essays,” in which authors write in great detail about frivolous or mundane things, offered me an opportunity to address this concept, and students’ difficulties in grappling with it, head on.

The Advantages of Rearranging the Topics Covered in a Course

by Peyam Tabrizian, Mathematics
in the spirit of my Math 54 experience as a student and as a GSI, I decided to reorganize things. Instead of teaching the course in two separate chunks, I mixed the topics up in a way that I would first teach a linear algebra concept, and then immediately apply it to differential equations.

Breaking Down the Barriers Inhibiting Effective Learning Environments

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.

The Challenges of Teaching in the Summer Session

by Conrad Hengesbach, Mathematics
The variety of the students’ backgrounds meant that everybody brought different prerequisites to the table, especially when it came to their training in first-semester calculus… I needed a mechanism to ensure that towards the end of the first week everybody was on the same boat.

A New Approach to Teaching and Learning

by Timothy Randazzo, Ethnic Studies
Last summer I made the decision to alter my approach to teaching radically, and the result was the highest level of analytical thinking and enthusiasm among my students that I have ever seen in my six years of teaching…I decided upon three principles to guide my formulation of class activities and assignments: 1) there will be no lectures, 2) there will be no exams, and 3) whenever possible, student work will be reintegrated into the class, rather than being just “for the instructor.”

Bringing Opera Closer to Home

by Michael Markham, Music
The difficulty of classical opera for students…lies in a perceived cultural distance between the realistic dramatic forms that today’s students relate to and cartoonish images of huge, blubbering sopranos…The form tends to remain closed to undergraduates; a huge, hulking, messy, “dead” thing with little direct emotional impact resonance for them. In the 2004 Summer session, however, I decided to meet the students halfway.