This issue of Into Practice is adapted fromInstructional Movescontent produced by the Teaching and Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Though 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
Like 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.
Todd 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: 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
Ronald 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.
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
Arthur Applbaum, Adams Professor of Democratic Values, Quinton Mayne, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, and Christopher Robichaud, Lecturer in Ethics and Public Policypiloted 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.