HKS

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

Enriching learning through student-led provocation


This issue of Into Practice is adapted from Instructional Moves content produced by the Teaching and Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Timothy McCarthyThough Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Lecturer on History and Literature, Public Policy, and Education, plays an integral role in class discussions for his course Stories of Slavery and Freedom, students are responsible for leading the majority of classes through an exercise McCarthy refers to as “provocation.” “The provokers do not come in and give a summary of what we’ve read or a mini lecture about the top-line themes that might emerge from the assigned readings. I really want them to find some way to literally provoke us into conversation, get the juices flowing, and try to get all the students to think about something urgently at the outset of class.”... Read more about Enriching learning through student-led provocation

Using faculty videos in required courses to engage students at all levels


Pinar DoganLike many instructors of required courses, Pinar Dogan, Lecturer in Public Policy and SLATE Faculty Liaison for Pedagogy, teaches her section of Markets and Market Failure to students with significantly divergent levels of prior knowledge of microeconomics. Seeking a way for students “to end up at the same place even though they started at very different places,” Dogan partnered with SLATE to develop videos of Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) faculty experts explaining the relevance of math-intensive or potentially dry concepts (e.g., fixed costs or price elasticity) to public policy. 

The benefits: Because the videos show how concepts... Read more about Using faculty videos in required courses to engage students at all levels

Applying the science of behavior change to lesson planning


Todd Rogers_Into PracticeTodd Rogers, Professor of Public Policy, teaches students in MLD304 The Science of Behavior Change to leverage insights about human decision making and develop interventions through carefully constructed class activities and facilitated discussion, such as randomized experiments and think-pair-share brainstorms, respectively. One activity, developed and refined in collaboration with Professors Brigitte Madrian and Jennifer Lerner, requires that students work in groups to write an appeal asking online workers to donate their compensation to charity.

The benefits: "It's a nice culmination of what they learn about behavior change," says Rogers. Using... Read more about Applying the science of behavior change to lesson planning

Using digital resources to augment course materials


Teddy SvoronosTheodore Svoronos, lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, developed digital-learning materials as part of the Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) project and now uses them for both residential and online-learning communities.

The benefits: Svoronos found that the modularity of a BCURE course on Descriptive Evidence allowed him to repurpose the content as introductory materialfor his residential students in statistics: “BCURE provided rich,interactive examples that policymakers in India and Pakistan ... Read more about Using digital resources to augment course materials

Student case pedagogy: Learning from their own experience


Ron HeifetzRonald Heifetz, Co-Founder of the Center for Public Leadership and King Hussein bin Talal Senior Lecturer of Public Leadership, uses experiential teaching methods like student case analysis—where students collaboratively develop and analyze cases drawn from their own work experiences—to promote deeper engagement and stronger retention of leadership concepts.

The benefits: Teaching leadership as practice in the Harvard Kennedy School’s MLD 201 Exercising Leadership: The Politics of Change and MLD 364 Leadership from the Inside Out: The Personal Capacity to Lead and Stay Alive requires not only... Read more about Student case pedagogy: Learning from their own experience

Blended Learning: Using interactive online modules before class to enhance learning in class

Dan Levy

Dan Levy, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Faculty Chair of the Strengthening Learning and Teaching Excellence (SLATE) Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, developed a series of online modules for Advanced Quantitative Methods I, work made possible by teaching fellow Teddy Svoronos and SLATE staff member Mae Klinger. The modules contain interactive videos, diagrams, and practice problems; an end-of-module quiz; and an anonymous feedback survey.... Read more about Blended Learning: Using interactive online modules before class to enhance learning in class

Defining learning objectives: Pre-semester, and all semester

 

Tony Gomez-Ibanez

José A. (Tony) Gómez-Ibáñez, Derek C. Bok Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, who holds appointments at the GSD and HKS, defines the learning objectives of his course prior to the start of the semester and references them to frame each individual class session: “I use the first five minutes to place each class in the course – ‘The last class we talked about X and today we want to see how those ideas might apply to Y.’”

The benefits: Deliberately and specifically identifying what students should come away with each class places the focus on the learning process, rather than the specifics of a particular unit topic or case – Gómez-Ibáñez teaches economics, infrastructure, and transportation policy, primarily employing the case method.... Read more about Defining learning objectives: Pre-semester, and all semester

Learning from learning management systems: New ways to engage students through Canvas

Applbaum, Mayne, Robichaud

Arthur Applbaum, Adams Professor of Democratic Values, Quinton Mayne, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, and Christopher Robichaud, Lecturer in Ethics and Public Policy piloted the new University-wide learning management system, Canvas, in their spring 2015 courses at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The benefits: Digital teaching and learning tools enable new approaches and modernize existing techniques to engage students:  

Applbaum asked “three daily questions” in online discussion forums to give his students more immediate feedback and pre-seed classroom conversations.

Mayne built an integrated page for each class session to involve students in the vision, goals, and pre-work expectation of that meeting, to get them excited about the upcoming conversation, and to free up class time for in-person discussion and interaction

Robichaud captured outside-class conversations and interactions between students by creating online dialogue via blog posts, news items, chat functions, and “reflections” postings, which had the added benefit of encouraging participation by shy students.

The challenges: There is always a learning curve in the adoption of a new system, and thoughtful organization of the course site to support learning goals takes time. Some tools may not feel as intuitive as others, depending on prior experience.... Read more about Learning from learning management systems: New ways to engage students through Canvas