In her Transformationscourse, 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.
In K. Michael Hays’s HarvardX course, The Architectural Imagination, learners explore fundamental architectural concepts through various “making-as-learning” activities, like building a cardboard model of Aldo Rossi’s Cuneo Memorial and designing a pied-à-terre in the style of Le Corbusier.
Elena Kramer, Bussey Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Noel Michele Holbrook, Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry, co-teach General Education course OEB 52: Biology of Plants through lectures, labs, field trips, and weekly quizzes that students use to combine concepts into a creative project at the end of the semester. The prompt, “Trace the rise of the sporophyte,” results in the production of resources like videos, art pieces, fashion magazines, original songs, poems, and children’s books that students present in an arts festival during the final class.
The benefits: Students have to refer back to course activities to help crystalize what they’ve been learning all semester, which ultimately helps them prepare for the final exam. Students tell Kramer the creative projects help them better understand course concepts: “It’s not just busy work, it’s not just fun; it actually makes them think about everything they’ve learned through the semester.”
The challenges:A standard grading rubric is difficult to apply to projects produced in various mediums. To address this issue, Kramer and Holbrook collaborated with a Media Fellow in the Derek Bok Center’s Learning Lab to design an accompanying activity in which all students record an introduction that explains their project and how it addresses the prompt. This “artist’s statement” is especially useful for evaluating the more abstract projects.... Read more about Mastering course content through creative assignments
Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies, trains students to interpret history through various media including graphics, data visualizations, videos, and art installations.
A comparative case study of three diverse makerspaces (defined as informal sites for creative production) surfaced key themes in practices and the kinds of learning they support. Makerspaces are multidisciplinary in both approach and the work produced, blend formal learning environments with informal communities of practice, and focus on learning as production rather than as mastery of a composite set of skills.... Read more about Research: Learning in the Making: A Comparative Case Study of Three Makerspaces
Gojko Barjamovic, Lecturer on Assyriology, increases student learning in ANE 103 Ancient Lives by designing activities to engage students’ full range of senses. “To convince people to commit a semester of study to ancient history, you have to make it meaningful.”