Into Practice

Into Practice, a biweekly communication distributed to active instructors during the academic year, was inspired by a successful 2012 HILT grant project. The e-letter highlights the pedagogical practices of individual faculty members from across schools and delivers timely, evidence-based teaching advice, contributing to and strengthening a University-wide community of practice around teaching.

See the most recent issues below, or filter at left through all published content.

Pushing students to confront limits by transforming the abstract to physical form


Megan Panzano, Into Practice HeadshotIn her Transformations course, Assistant Professor of Architecture Megan Panzano uses architectural design methods and concepts, and a workshop approach for giving feedback, to engage undergraduates from a wide range of concentrations. When students translate abstract ideas into physical form through a variety of materials and fabrication techniques (see photos below), they confront limits, question assumptions, and expand their problem-solving capacity.

The benefits: “Creating a visual or physical manifestation of an idea” helps students’ thought patterns become less rigid.... Read more about Pushing students to confront limits by transforming the abstract to physical form

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

Understanding culture through material artifacts


Yukio LippitStudents in Japanese art and architecture courses taught by Yukio Lippit, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, often encounter cultures quite different from their own.  Lippit immerses them in those cultures through deep engagement with material artifacts, by examining roof tiles or carpentry, visiting the Japanese house at the Boston Children’s Museum, or participating in a tea ceremony.  

The benefits: For Lippit, objects unlock the “syntax of cultural practices” in ways that other forms of study cannot; they manifest “modes of meaning in the world, dispositions of thought and comportment.” Focusing on objects also equalizes participation:... Read more about Understanding culture through material artifacts

Moving from passive learning to active exploration of the physical world


Scott EdwardsScott Edwards, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ)makes extensive use of the museum’s ornithology collections in his courses and brings specimens into his lecture sessions to engage students in close analysis during weekly three-hour labs. Edwards models “ways of making meaning” by looking to specimens as key evidence for testing claims and theories.

The benefits: Student engagement increases through the immediacy and level of detailed observation that comes from holding actual specimens. Edwards claims ... Read more about Moving from passive learning to active exploration of the physical world

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