experiential learning

Engaging students in a field-based, problem-oriented, experiential course


Jorrit de JongJorrit de Jong, Lecturer in Public Policy, combines practice, research, and engagement with learning and teaching in his course Innovation Lab: Public Problem Solving in Massachusetts Cities, in which students participate in a field-based, problem-oriented, and experiential setting, immersed in local city governments. Students observe, first-hand, the work of public servants—going on inspection tours, triaging cases, analyzing geo-spatial data, reconciling competing priorities and politics—and then pitch proposals to city mayors, usually building on the work of previous students.... Read more about Engaging students in a field-based, problem-oriented, experiential course

Lowering the barriers to becoming a practitioner


Lily SongLily Song, Lecturer and Research Associate, divides her course, Community Development: History, Theory, and Imaginative Practice, into three sections. In “Unraveling,” students read theoretical texts about community development and interrogate dominant approaches that uphold race, class, and gender-based supremacies. “Revisiting” immerses students in alternative histories of community development, drawing on various liberation struggles and movements. Finally, “praxis” brings community development practitioners to present and discuss their work.... Read more about Lowering the barriers to becoming a practitioner

Research: Boundary crossing – A theoretical framework to understand the operational dynamics of industry-school partnerships

In this study, industry-school partnerships (ISPs) were mutually beneficial because of boundary-crossing. Industry-based curriculums and curriculum development, and enhanced school-to-work transition were two major outcomes for the three industry sectors included in the current study, i.e.,... Read more about Research: Boundary crossing – A theoretical framework to understand the operational dynamics of industry-school partnerships

Mutually beneficial partnerships


Robert S. Huckman, Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor of Business AdministrationAriel Dora Stern, Poronui Associate Professor of Business AdministrationRobert S. Huckman, Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor of Business Administration and Ariel Dora Stern, Poronui Associate Professor of Business Administration pair student groups with local hospitals to address challenges related to access, adoption of new delivery methods, and the quality of care in their elective course, Transforming Healthcare Delivery. This applied work is rooted in a series of cases that have been written by Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty and articles that cover broader ideas from the literature and previous research.... Read more about Mutually beneficial partnerships

Research: Microbe Magazine analysis of C.R.E.A.T.E strategy

This article analyzes the benefits of using the C.R.E.A.T.E. strategy, including to engage students in the research process, to enable faculty to focus on scientific thinking in class, and to prepare students for 21st-century science.

Research: C.R.E.A.T.E Transform Understanding of Science

The C.R.E.A.T.E. (Consider, Read, Elucidate the hypothesis, Analyze and interpret the data, and Think of the next Experiment) approach to scientific literature and experiment helps demystify and humanize the process of scientific experimentation.

Implementing collaborative experimentation


Rachel Carmody, Assistant Professor of Human Evolutionary BiologyRachel Carmody, Assistant Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, explores a burgeoning new field in her course Gut Microbiome and Human Health. The main goals are for students to develop the skills to understand how experiments are designed and conducted, and to critically evaluate existing studies and emerging research papers. Students are challenged to generate new data of their own and run experiments to investigate a predetermined hypothesis individually and collectively during the semester. They regularly discuss the results of their experiments and produce final research papers that use the collective data to explore any aspect of the hypothesis that interests them.... Read more about Implementing collaborative experimentation

Helping students see themselves as scientists


Kevin EgganWhen Dr. Kevin Eggan, Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, did research as an undergraduate, it “transformed for me what science was and what it could be.” His Precision Genetics and Gene Therapy year-long course offers sophomores a similar opportunity. In the fall, students are introduced to a “jamboree of recent medical discoveries in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).” Working in small groups, they explore and then choose a gene to focus on. In the spring, they continue in small groups to experiment on mice, learn tools for analyzing the data they generate,... Read more about Helping students see themselves as scientists

Research: Social Pedagogies

This article on “social pedagogies” shows how engaging students with “authentic audiences” is crucial for understanding key (and often difficult) concepts in a course. 

Engaging real-world stakeholders to provide feedback to students


Jal Mehta, HGSEJal David Mehta, Associate Professor of Education, directs students to use design thinking and interact with real-world stakeholders when making proposals to improve educational systems in his course Deeper Learning for All: Designing a 21st-Century School System. At the end of the semester, students present final projects to panels of educational experts ranging from superintendents to K-12 teachers to Harvard Graduate School of Education faculty. 

The benefits: This combination of approaches “really focuses people’s attention,” says Mehta.... Read more about Engaging real-world stakeholders to provide feedback to students

Enhancing student learning through field experience


Gonzalo GiribetGonzalo Giribet, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, takes students in his course Biology and Evolution of Invertebrate Animals (co-taught this semester with Professor Cassandra Extavour) to Panama to do fieldwork during spring break to help them see how invertebrate animals “are assembled in nature,” and how “organisms are integrated into systems.” Students incur no costs for the trip thanks to funding from the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

The benefits: “Being in nature in the wild,” allows students to see the phenomena they’ve studied in their true context, rather than an academic vacuum; they gain an... Read more about Enhancing student learning through field experience

Working with local communities to engage with global issues


Maria Luisa Parra-VelascoMaría Luisa Parra-Velasco, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literatures, requires her advanced Spanish language learners in Spanish 59: Spanish and the Community to complete four hours a week of engaged scholarship with local organizations as part of their language learning experience. Through classroom discussions, travels from Cambridge to Chelsea (for example), meaningful interactions, and conversations in Spanish with members of the Latino community, they explore powerful concepts like “the borderlands” as related to global migration, changes in local demography, and in-between identities.... Read more about Working with local communities to engage with global issues

Engaging students via field trips, near and far

James Hanken, MCZ

James Hanken, Professor of Biology and Director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), increases student engagement by taking students out of the traditional classroom. Whether organizing his freshman seminar around weekly excursions to Harvard’s museums, or guiding a spring break field trip to Costa Rica for undergraduates enrolled in OEB 167 Herpetology, these immersive experiences “provide opportunities for students to see and understand things they simply won’t get in the classroom.”

The benefits: While Hanken favors the traditional lecture for certain material, field trips expose students to people and ideas unavailable in the classroom setting, like interviewing museum directors about the challenges of curation and exhibit administration. The field exposure in Costa Rica, a trip largely sponsored by the MCZ, gives students an understanding of animals as living organisms, not just static entities—an immersive experience "we are uniquely qualified to offer."... Read more about Engaging students via field trips, near and far

Visualization lab

See examples of research and instructional uses of Harvard’s state-of-the-art immersive 3D stereo Visualization Lab, located within the Peabody Museum.

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