course transformation


Review the Bok Center’s guidance on inclusive teaching, which considers how to design your course and facilitate classroom dynamics that encourage an inclusive, welcoming, and caring classroom environment.

Centering student need in gateway courses to the field

Messerlian_Profile PhotoDr. Carmen Messerlian, Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Epidemiology, remodeled the department’s gateway Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology I course after her first year teaching it. Drawing on key observations and 6-8 hours of one-on-one student meetings per week, “I wanted to understand students’ learning needs and requirements, their goals for the course, and where their training was going to take them.” From there, she synthesized both her own experience in the field and quantitative student review data to radically revise the course’s structure. Now the course helps students develop their scientific research skills, explicitly scaffolding how to perform activities that students rarely get formal training in, like academic journal peer reviews, abstract writing, and poster presentations. At its core, the course trains students “how to become a reproductive epidemiologist,” and to learn how to put on “an epidemiological lens” when they produce, digest, or evaluate material in the field. 

Grappling with a global pandemic in class, as a class

Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International LawJonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law, adapted his digital governance course to incorporate what everyone was really focused on in mid-spring of 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of “compartmentalizing” between class and crisis, he reworked the syllabus to respond to students’ needs and evolving experiences. Zittrain replaced the final exam with collaborative reports in which students examined aspects of the pandemic through the lens of digital governance dilemmas. “The idea was to offer students an opportunity to apply what they learned in the course to problems that were on everybody’s mind.”... Read more about Grappling with a global pandemic in class, as a class

Flipping the classroom for deeper student engagement and feedback on learning

L MahadevanL Mahadevan, Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics in SEAS, and Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and of Physics in FAS used a 2017-2018 SEAS Learning Incubator LInc Faculty Fellowship to emphasize active learning in his Mathematical Modeling course. He implemented a flipped classroom approach to enable students to come to class with problems and questions to collaborate on, time to develop their own problems from scratch, and work on modeling with peers. The foundational arc supporting this process has students move from observations through abstraction, analysis and communication, and iteration.

Import Content from another Canvas site (Canvas)

Canvas enables instructors to import content from existing course sites for use in new course sites (importing content from another instructor’s site requires the help of local academic support staff).

Case Studies in Formative Feedback at HGSE


Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Teaching and Learning Lab offers a number of case-studies on gathering and implementing student feedback, including during a course. 


A balancing act: Making established courses your own

Karin ObergKarin Öberg, Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Astronomy, taught departmental introductory course Stellar and Planetary Astronomy in 2016 by building on established material and modifying the curriculum using student feedback and her own observational assessment.

Early Feedback (Bok Center)

The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning suggests tips for soliciting and reviewing student feedback early in the semester.

Research: Enhancing teaching and learning through dialogue: a student and staff partnership model

Researchers describe and analyze a model for developing student–staff partnerships to enhance teaching and learning, where students act as consultants providing timely and focused feedback to instructors on aspects of their practice, finding that face-to-face follow-up meetings produced the best...

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