HLS

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.” 

The benefits: An anonymous student interest poll showed that every student in the class wanted to shift to studying COVID-19 in groups. Students brought energy and enthusiasm to their work together, ultimately creating substantial reports examining issues like misinformation and digital contact tracing.... Read more about Grappling with a global pandemic in class, as a class

Applying Pedagogical Insights to Large Online Courses


William FisherWhen William Fisher, WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property Law, was approached to create an online course version of his Harvard Law School Copyright course, he agreed with the stipulation that CopyrightX be paired with the residential version, that enrollment be limited to 500, and that students meet in discussion sections of 25. Both online and residential students watch the same 90-minute lecture video prior to class time. When the class meets, Fisher facilitates case study discussions with residential students and 15-20 teaching fellows do so for sections of online students.... Read more about Applying Pedagogical Insights to Large Online Courses

Using a student cohort to test and innovate new training materials


Tyler GianniniSusan FarbsteinTyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein, Clinical Professors of Law, pull back the curtain on pedagogy for students in the seminar Advanced Skills Training in Strategic Human Rights Advocacy by making them part of a learning community and giving them ownership over the learning process. For example, each year students work to improve simulations in which they originally were participants, in an earlier prerequisite seminar... Read more about Using a student cohort to test and innovate new training materials

Hearing their own voice: Consistent student participation while discussing polarizing topics


Kamali, Into PracticeElizabeth Papp Kamali, Assistant Professor of Law, wants to ensure that students contribute consistently throughout the semester: "A student can get into a rut if they don't participate in those first few classes, and it can be very difficult to break that cycle." She uses different models to encourage participation—for example, the Socratic method in larger introductory courses and student-led discussion in smaller seminars—often asking students to adopt non-mainstream arguments. 

The benefits: Compelling student participation brings diverse perspectives—intellectual, demographic, and experiential—to the classroom,... Read more about Hearing their own voice: Consistent student participation while discussing polarizing topics

Nuanced assessments: More than the final grade

Howell Jackson

Howell Jackson, James S. Reid Jr. Professor of Law, experiments with end-of-semester exams and writing assignments to create opportunities for meaningful, formative feedback through skills practice, reflection, and peer collaboration.

The benefits: Jackson has experimented with multiple choice questions, most recently in Introduction to Securities Regulation, requiring students to select options such as “Clearly no” and “Probably yes” and then write short essays elaborating on a few of the questions they found particularly challenging or problematic.... Read more about Nuanced assessments: More than the final grade

Late semester assignments: Recognizing merit through collaboration

Guinier

Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor of Law, incorporates collaboration into her late semester assignments in order to provide opportunities for self-improvement and self-reflection. “By sharing perspectives and differing approaches, classmates can in some cases teach their students more effectively than the professor.”

The benefits: Whether encouraging lecture course students to take their final exam in small groups or asking seminar students to prepare and lead portions of late semester discussions, Guinier believes collaborative endeavors show students that understanding how to get the answer is as important as getting the answer.... Read more about Late semester assignments: Recognizing merit through collaboration

Putting students at the helm of their learning experience

Hanson

Jon Hanson, Alfred Smart Professor of Law, saw an opportunity to improve learning by putting students in the driver's seat. Along with Jacob Lipton, JD ’14, he developed The Systemic Justice Project (SJP) – a policy innovation collaboration, organized and catalyzed by students – as a problem-oriented, team-driven, and experiential approach to courses in legal education.

The benefits: Systemic Justice” and “The Justice Lab” require that students work in teams to select and fully immerse themselves in a current social policy problem, an applied and interdisciplinary experience that many point to as the most memorable and rewarding coursework of their academic career. The approach connects students to issues they care about and the communities and people who stand to benefit from policy change.... Read more about Putting students at the helm of their learning experience