Since the inception of the Searle Fellows Program, participants have created critical accounts, in which they explore authentic questions, drawing from a range of pedagogical theories, approaches and best practices. This index lists critical accounts created since 2009.
Index of Searle Fellows Critical Accounts
Abrams, Daniel (Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, 2011-2012)
Improving Interactive Participation in the Advanced Applied Math Classroom
Mentor: Ed Olmstead
ES & APPM 311-2: Methods of Applied Mathematics (partial differential equations)
The traditional methods of teaching applied math comprise lecture, homework, and exams. Recent research suggests that other methods, such as peer instruction and project-based learning, can result in enhanced student engagement and better learning outcomes, at least in introductory math courses. This project applied these methods to an advanced undergraduate / graduate-level course in partial differential equations, with the goal of improving student participation, engagement and ultimately student learning. Specific steps taken include the development of new demonstration materials, the implementation of regular in-class small-group discussions, and the use of a group project in lieu of a final exam.
Keywords: active learning, partial differential equations, project-based learning
Armbruster, Benjamin (Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, 2010-2011)
Continuous Improvement of IEMS 326
Mentor: Bruce Ankenman
IEMS 326: Economics and Finance for Engineers
In this critical account I describe, motivate, evaluate, and reflect on the changes I am making to IEMS 326. These changes include reducing the use of Excel in lecture, adding case-studies, and reordering the course topics. Comparing student performance before and after these changes I find no reduction in performance and some limited gains.
Keywords: continuous improvement, assessment, case-studies
Balogun, Oluwaseyi (Mechanical Engineering, 2011-2012)
Promoting Excitement and Deep Learning of Fundamental Dynamics Concepts in an Engineering Undergraduate Classroom
Mentor: Sridhar Krishnaswamy
ME 363: Mechanical Vibrations
Understanding fundamental concepts in dynamics is critical to development of new solution strategies and techniques to address real life engineering problems. However, teaching students to appreciate and retain these concepts is a formidable challenge using traditional teacher- centered approaches. To address this challenge, my Searle Fellows project seeks to identify and implement effective teaching strategies that can promote excitement and deep learning of fundamental concepts in dynamics, and provide a pathway for the application of these concepts in the real life problem solving. The new teaching strategies I am exploring include: in-class experiments and demonstrations, paper readings, group activities in and outside the classroom, and student inspired problem solving opportunities. These strategies are being implemented in my ME 363 classroom, and have led to positive student feedback. The strategies have the potential to inspire students to master the fundamental dynamics concepts and apply them in problem solving outside the classroom environment.
Keywords: deep learning, problem-solving, student-centered learning
Bierman, Jennifer (Medicine, 2009-2010)
Improving Observation and Feedback of Third Year Medical Students’ Physical Examination Skills
Mentor: Gary Martin
Physical Examination skills are an important clinical skill for all medical students. Unfortunately due to time constraints in ambulatory medicine observation and feedback of these skills is low. A project using a structured checklist to evaluate just one portion of the physical exam was devised to determine if this could improve observation and feedback of these skills without being time consuming for the preceptors. Both goals were met in the pilot. Observation was improved and the use of the checklist by preceptors seems sustainable. This can be broadened to include more physical examination skills in the future.
Key Words: learner-centered, teaching barriers, curricular development, physical examination
Buscarnera, Giuseppe (Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2012-2013)
Engaging Students through Participation: Integration of Group Activities in Engineering Mechanics Courses
Mentor: Richard Finno
This project details the plan for developing a new course on the mechanics of failure in geological materials (e.g., soils and rocks) at the senior undergraduate or first-year graduate level. The traditional structure of fundamental mechanics courses is typically based on a chalk-and-talk strategy, that does not promote active learning and undermines students’ interest in the topic. This course will encourage active participation of students by combining classical individual assessment methods with group activities and discussion sessions. The course will promote four main learning objectives: (i) acquisition of new analytical and technical skills to understand failure processes is soils and rocks; (ii) ability to establish links between material processes and failure events in natural settings; (iii) ability to collaborate in teams; and (iv) development of communication skills in written and oral form. The objectives will be assessed via weekly written assignments, as well as through group presentations, discussions, and final written reports.
Keywords: active learning, group activities, students’ engagement, communication skills
Cadava, Geraldo L. (History, 2010-2011)
Evaluating Changing Perceptions of Immigration in a Freshman Seminar
Mentor: Melissa Macauley
History 102-6-20: Mexican Immigration to the United States
This Critical Account provides a description of, and preliminary findings from, my Searle Fellows Program project on tracking and evaluating the changing attitudes of undergraduate students who took my winter 2011 freshman seminar on “Mexican Immigration to the United States.” Through a combination of surveys, Small Group Analysis, written reflections, and CTECs, I set out to understand more about how, or if, student attitudes towards Mexican immigration change over time through deepened knowledge about the subject. My primary interest in this study from a purely pedagogical perspective is my desire to engage students in meaningful, critical, and respectful dialog about a particularly challenging and divisive issue.
Keywords: Mexican immigration, changing attitudes, divisive subjects
Cameron, Kenzie (General Internal Medicine, 2010-2011)
Using Technology to Engage Students and to Promote Collaborative Learning
Mentor: Gary Martin
PUB HLTH 301: Behavior, Society, and Health
Understanding behavioral and social science theories is necessary, but not sufficient, for students to learn how such theories have been applied, successfully or unsuccessfully, nor to learn how the knowledge of such theories could be relevant to students’ future studies and/or careers. Nor is focusing solely on students’ ability to remember or understand an acceptable end goal for teaching excellence. The goal of this project is to effectively incorporate technology both within and outside the classroom to promote collaborative and active learning among students enrolled in the Behavior, Society, and Health course offered through the Program in Public Health.
Keywords: technology, collaborative learning, student engagement
Dolinskaya, S. Irina (Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, 2010-2011)
Engaging Teaching in Large Classroom
Mentor: Karen Smilowitz
Undergraduate introductory and curriculum required courses often have large student enrollment, resulting in large classroom settings. Due to the size of such classes, instructors often feel limited to a lecture format to present the material to students, fostering one-way communication from professor to students. Such an environment makes students feel invisible to the professor and decreases their engagement in the course. Through a review of the existing literature, I identify some pedagogical challenges associated with the large classrooms and present techniques to address them. This paper describes a student-group assignment that I implemented in my class at the beginning of the term to facilitate engaging teaching throughout the course and discusses its initial assessment and outcomes.
Keywords: engaging students, large classroom teaching, connecting with students
Easterday, Matthew (Education and Social Policy, 2012-2013)
Digital Lofts: Online learning environments for real world innovation
Mentor: Christopher Riesbeck
Civic innovators design real-world solutions to societal problems. Teaching civic innovations presents serious challenges in classroom orchestration because facilitators must manage a complex learning environment (which may include community partners, open-ended problems, and long time scales) and cannot rely on traditional classroom orchestration techniques (such as fixed schedules, pre-selected topics and simplified problems). Here we consider how “digital lofts”—online learning environments for civic innovation—might overcome orchestration challenges through the use of badges, cases, crowd-feedback, semi-automatically created instruction, self-assessment triggered group instruction, social media, and credentialing. Together these features create three types of feedback loops: a crowd critique loop (in which learners receive formative feedback on their innovation work from a broader community); a case development loop (in which examples of student work are semi-automatically created to provide instruction); and a learner-driven instructional loop (in which self-assessments determine which group instruction is provided). Researching and developing
digital lofts can help us understand how to support real-world innovation across multiple design disciplines (including engineering, policy, writing and even science), and result in technologies for disseminating and scaling civic innovation education more broadly.
Keywords: digital lofts, feedback, civic innovation, online learning environments
Feldman, Hannah (Art History, 2010-2011)
Keeping Minds (and Eyes) Open When the Lights Go Out: The Introductory Survey of Contemporary Art History and the Non-Humanist
Mentor: Susan Hollis Clayson
Art History 260: Introduction to Contemporary Art History: Contemporary Art and its Engagements
The survey-format introduction to “Contemporary Art History” presents several pedagogical challenges. Meant to familiarize students with a representative sampling of art produced since 1960, the content of the course corresponds to an area of study that is as uncodified as it is self-referential and esoteric. As a result, students taking the course in order to satisfy distribution requirements within the Humanities are at risk of being alienated by course materials that seem to depend on prior knowledge at the same time that they also forcibly disrupt the empirical, data-and information-delivery based learning to which students have grown accustomed in similarly introductory level courses within the sciences and engineering. These challenges and risks are only augmented by the incursion of digital distractions into the lecture hall. The project then is to re-engage these students in the learning process through the articulation of learning objectives and teaching methods that both conform to the nature of the materials at hand and aim to produce critical thinking skills above and beyond the mastery of an unstable canon. Within this context, this is best done through the implementation of participatory lecture strategies, creative and self-critical assessments as related to both reading and writing, and through careful syllabus articulation.
Keywords: critical thinking, lecturing, active learning, student engagement, teaching intelligence doubt and curiosity vs. institutionalizing expertise, canon-mastery
Findler, Robert B. (Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences, 2010-2011)
Improving Learning via Codewalks
Mentor: Gokhan Memik
Programming and then presenting programs to peers can have a positive impact on learning in computer science courses. Students learn how to present programs (and thus how to write programs that are easier to read in the first place) and how to read others’ programs. Both these skills are important for professional programmers and both are lacking in conventional computer science curricula. This paper describes one way to structure such exercises in classroom and reports on experience with that organization.
Keywords: codewalks, active learning, computer science
Gerber, Elizabeth (Mechanical Engineering and the Segal Design Institute Journalism, 2009-2010)
Preparing Students to be Innovators through Informal Service Learning Experiences: A Case Study of Design for America
Mentor: Maud Hickey
Government and industry depend on higher education to prepare students for careers that advance innovation and universities are designing new initiatives to meet this need. However, few initiatives emphasize the importance of fostering innovation self-efficacy, or belief in one’s ability to innovate, as a critical first step to preparing future innovators. This paper explores how students can build innovation, self-efficacy and supporting skills through informal service learning experiences in design. The paper describes a recent initiative I launched at Northwestern University called Design for America. Design for America is designed to engage students in innovation work through social and local design projects. The paper qualitatively assesses the success of this goal. Based on this assessment, I present design principles for creating initiatives to foster innovation self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, comfort with ambiguity and failure, perspective taking, interdisciplinary teamwork and communication, and leadership.
Keywords: design, innovation self-efficacy, service learning, informal learning, experiential learning
Gilbert, Jeremy (Journalism 2009-2010)
Journalism + Technology: Cooperative Experimentation in the Creation, Consumption and Distribution of Media
Mentor: Charles Whitaker
The future of journalism requires new skills and new uses of technology. Journalists and computer scientists need to know how to communicate if they are to create the systems and tools to aid in the creation, consumption and distribution of media. This project is a multidisciplinary, cooperative classroom experience that brings together journalism and computer science students to create experimental systems and tools for media. Through group project work and presentations to their peers, industry experts and faculty, students learn to manage projects and gain exposure to other disciplines.
Keywords: communication, small group learning, cooperation
Gossett, Jeffrey G. (Pediatric Cardiology, 2012-2013)
Teaching Pediatric Cardiac Auscultation
Mentor: Mark Adler
Teaching pediatric residents to diagnose congenital heart disease is a key component of the Cardiology rotation. Residents consistently express concerns about their skill and comfort with the cardiac exam, and studies show striking gaps in performance. The goal of this project is to improve the teaching of the cardiac examination through utilization of a newly developed high-fidelity Blue-Tooth stethoscope that allows real-time recordings. The Blue-Tooth connection allows replay directly into the stethoscope at a future time with fidelity to the original exam. The sound quality and tactile presence of the stethoscope realistically simulate the patient interaction. The educational intervention consists of 1) a learner accessed teaching module, and 2) deliberate practice to solidify learning. The module integrates a didactic component and a guided auscultatory component utilizing the Blue-Tooth stethoscope. Deliberate practice is then achieved through guided use of the stethoscope to auscultate an annotated library of pediatric cardiac exams. Assessment of the learner’s improvement in differentiating normal from abnormal sounds, and appropriate referral for sub-specialty care, is integrated into the project. The library of sounds is currently being acquired through an IRB approved process. Once this has been completed, the project will be implemented during the core Cardiology Rotation. Developing and implementing novel curricula in a real-world medical environment is filled with challenges, but is critical as duty-hour restrictions limit resident work schedules.
Keywords: auscultation, clinical skills, cardiac examination, technology
Greenberg, Robert (Pediatric, 2011-2012)
Utilizing a Text-Paging Platform to Enhance Clinical Assessments among 3rd Year Medical Students
Mentor: Julie Stamos
Teaching students how to concisely and accurately assess a patient is a key goal of all core clerkships. Adept assessments require students to not only report data but to interpret it. Yet, due to time constraints, differing expectations, and lack of context, this skill is often inconsistently taught in medical school. Through the use of standardized virtual patient scenarios, this project utilized an innovative modality, text-pager messaging (limited to 200 characters), to challenge students to summarize the high-priority details of patients in a succinct manner. During the exercise, responses were reviewed and both individual and general feedback was provided to participants. Retrospectively, message content was reviewed for the inclusion of pertinent historical details (reporting) and a diagnosis (interpreting). Over the four practice exercises, instructors observed that students generally improved in their reporting of pertinent facts and more often included a diagnosis. Feedback from students on this exercise was that it improved their confidence in summarizing patients. Because the clinical assessment constitutes the critical component for handoff communication between physicians, we plan to incorporate this activity into a larger handoff curriculum in the 2012-2013 academic year.
Keywords: case presentation, curricular development, patient assessment
Gruber, Daniel A. (Integrating Marketing Communications, 2012-2013)
Tweeting the News: Using twitter to bridge theory and practice
Mentor: Paul Wang
Using Twitter for the “In the news” part of my classes has had a significantly positive impact on my teaching. It has enhanced important learning goals in my courses, including theory/practice integration and class participation. Adopting this approach has also helped increase student engagement. This critical account has allowed me to systematically evaluate how Twitter is impacting the student experience in my classes. Additionally, I have developed a set of issues to consider at the start of each quarter to ensure successful implementation of Twitter for “in the news”.
Keywords: social media, student engagement, collaborative learning
Gupta, Ramona (Radiology, 2012-2013)
Using Simulation Technology in Interventional Radiology Fellowship Training
Mentor: Christine Park
The efficacy of simulation-based training in medicine has been proven repeatedly by studies demonstrating improved patient outcomes, improved technical success, improved operator confidence, better skill retention, and cost savings.1,2 Simulation has been applied broadly across medical specialties including procedural fields, most notably anesthesia and general surgery. However, the use of simulation training has not been widely adopted by the field of interventional radiology (IR). My goal is to create a module in which IR trainees complete a simulation-based skills assessment, followed by formal teaching and practice, and a final assessment.
Keywords: simulation, renal biopsy, interventional radiology
Harbridge, Laurel (Political Science, 2012-2013)
Problematizing Lectures to Promote Critical Thinking in Political Science
Mentor: Hendrik Spuyt
POLISCI 325: Congress and the Legislative Process
This critical account details my efforts to develop students’ analytic and critical thinking skills in an upper division course on Congress and the Legislative Process. When combined with students who may be strategic rather than deep learners, the traditional lecture format of this course does not challenge students to engage in critical thinking. Revisions to this course focus on creating more active learning opportunities and problem-based learning. The specific revisions include focusing lectures around a motivating problem or puzzle and assigning a paper and group presentation geared toward the application of material to recent political events.
Keywords: critical thinking, problematized lectures, active learning
Hardavellas, Nikos (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, 2011-2012)
Enhancing Critical Thinking through Inquiry-based Learning
Mentor: Gokhan Memik
EECS 395/495: Programming Massively Parallel Processors
Critical thinking, particular in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), has been identified as one of the major educational targets for the coming decade. Critical thinking cannot be taught through a traditional lecturing format. Rather, it has to be practiced and refined. This account presents my attempt to enhance critical thinking in an advanced engineering course, by utilizing teaching methodologies that emphasize problem solving and knowledge construction.
Keywords: inquiry-based learning, deliberate practice, critical thinking
Heiman, Heather (Medicine, 2009-2010)
Mastery Learning of Oral Case Presentations
Mentor: Gary Martin
A concise, organized, and well-reasoned patient case presentation is a mandatory skill for medical students to acquire. Yet the teaching of case presentation skills can be haphazard, and medical students at Feinberg and nationally often feel inadequately prepared to deliver these presentations. I am working to develop a second-year oral presentation curriculum with three parts: an interactive on-line module, a series of video-taped cases for deliberate practice and feedback, and a set of test cases with assessment checklists. We will determine a minimum passing standard for each test case checklist using standard-setting methods, and students will be required to meet or exceed this score. Students falling below the standard will undertake more practice and take retests until they pass. Using a randomized waitlist-controlled design, we will examine the effectiveness of the mastery curriculum in the 2010-2011 academic year.
Keywords: clinical skills, deliberate practice, oral presentation
Hill, Dana (Law, 2011-2012)
Using Problematized Teaching to Engage First-Year Law Students in Threshold Concepts in the CLR Classroom
Mentor: Martha Kanter
Communication and Legal Reasoning
The focus of my project was to utilize teaching methodologies in a Communication and Legal Reasoning course that increase student engagement in class with particular focus on the subject matter’s “threshold concepts.” My goal was for students to achieve a deeper understanding of the threshold concepts necessary for legal analysis and writing and engage in critical thinking during class. I used the problematized teaching method, in which I related the class topic to a real life problem and then gave the students the opportunity to think through the problem prior to the lecture.
Keywords: threshold concepts, problematized teaching, student engagement
Huang, Chiang-Ching Spencer (Preventive Medicine, 2009-2010)
Bioinformatics: Small Class Teaching in Medical School
Mentor: Rick McGee
Bioinformatics is an emerging interdisciplinary field that covers a wide spectrum of research areas including; genetics, biochemistry, statistics, and computing. Teaching bioinformatics in the medical school represents a challenge to instructors because of students’ diverse educational backgrounds. In this critical account, several strategies were developed to motivate students, especially when difficulties or challenges come as the course progresses. In addition, pedagogical changes, from knowledge transmission to active learning, were emphasized to help students develop self-learning skills.
Keywords: small group learning, course evaluation, active learning
Huang, Jiaxing (Materials Science & Engineering, 2011-2012)
Integrating Research Discoveries into the Teaching of Materials Science and Engineering
Mentor: Thomas Mason
Advancing discovery while promoting teaching, training and learning is the professional fulfillment of faculty in a research university. It also resonates well with the new strategic plan of Northwestern University. My Searle Fellow project aims to develop and implement effective methodology to integrate research discoveries into undergraduate teaching. Mat_Sci 301 “Materials Science Principles”, an entry level materials science course was selected as the platform to test this idea. Since it is the gate of entrance for the majors to the discipline, the project can have a significant impact on the motivation and retention of majors. Here, a Northwestern-made research discovery – high throughput imaging of graphene-based sheets by fluorescence quenching microscopy (FQM) was transformed into an undergraduate student project as part of the lab component for Mat_Sci 301. Instead of a detailed procedure, students were given a question-driven guideline to have them “think” through the materials and prepare for the lab. During the lab, students used FQM to establish a processing-structure relationship of their graphene thin films, based on which they were required to come up with methods for improving the sample quality. Through the FQM lab, students practice searching and reading of scientific literature, learn state-of-the-art research technique, work as a team to find solutions to a problem related to a real technical challenge, and deliver a final written report. Surveys performed before and after the project, combined with in-class observation and CTEC questions were designed to access the learning outcomes. The active learning activities gave students an opportunity to exercise critical and creative thinking, and to experience firsthand how the materials science and engineering paradigm they learn in class governs the development of exciting new materials that are not covered in a typical curriculum.
Keywords: assessment, engagement, learning through experience
Huffman, Brent (Journalism, 2011-2012)
Engagement across Platforms – Narrative Innovation Project
Mentor: David Abrahamson
Collaboration, engagement, innovation
The goal is to improve upon an existing journalism course 490-Special Topics: Long Form Multimedia Narrative where I combined magazine print writing students with documentary video students in a class that focused on advanced storytelling methods. For this critical report, I set out to improve student engagement, collaboration, and innovation cross platform with the end result being an ipad ibook in the new iteration of the class. Two print students and two video students will work together on one ibook project with an innovative print and video component focusing on the same concept.
Keywords: collaboration, engagement, innovation
Jacoby, Sarah (Religious Studies, 2011-2012)
Thinking through Religion: Inspiring Learning through Engaged Lecturing in a Large Class
Mentor: Ken Seeskin
This project focuses on transforming a traditional large lecture-format course into an interactive, engaged lecture format by implementing a number of teaching methods appropriate for the large lecture hall including problematized and interrogative lecturing, multi-sensory approaches to lecturing involving audio/visual technology, techniques to improve information retention including proper lecture pacing and active learning strategies. Results were highly positive based on student assessments of the course, with room for future improvement regarding matching course objectives more fully with assessment techniques, in particular finding ways to assess students that further emphasize deep learning and critical thinking.
Keywords: active learning, engaged and problematized lecturing
Jewett, Michael C. (Chemical & Biological Engineering, 2010-2011)
Using Cooperative Learning and ¬In-Class Demonstrations to Illuminate a Structure for Integrating Knowledge
Mentor: John Torkelson
Chemical Engineering 375 – Biochemical Engineering
Integrating bioprocess principles for the design and analysis of fermentation processes is arguably the kernel of modern biochemical engineering. However, teaching students to draw higher-level relationships from fact-based information is a fundamental challenge. To address this challenge, my Searle Fellows Project sought to promote student learning by illuminating a structure for integrating knowledge in the Biochemical Engineering 375 classroom. The central teaching innovations were to incorporate cooperative learning strategies and in-class demonstrations. These approaches gave students an opportunity to engage and explore in problem-solving strategies and integrate cumulative knowledge as a group to achieve deep learning.
Keywords: cooperative learning, active learning, problem-based learning
Kaczynski, Kelly (Art Theory & Practice, 2009-2010)
Studio Practice: facilitating agency in an arts curriculum
Mentor: Judy Ledgerwood
Studio Practice is a course specifically geared to advanced art students as they work to develop a self-directed practice. The course provides curriculum that examines models of behavior and operations in arts production. Furthermore, it challenges the students to locate their subject and to position their research in an historical and contemporary context. In doing so, the course must be able to provide concrete means for learning and assessment in what is largely a subjective process of engagement.
Keywords: self-directed practice, agency, critique, assessment
Kernell, Georgia (Political Science, 2011-2012)
Introducing Original Research Components in Undergraduate Classes
Mentor: James Farr
Undergraduate students are fully capable of conducting original research on a novel topic. Yet too often they are not challenged to form original hypotheses and write research papers of publishable quality. In this critical account, I describe different methods to introduce original research into the classroom, including poster sessions, group projects, and writing workshops. I have had successful results in first-quarter freshmen seminars, honors mathematical methods in the social sciences courses, and first-year graduate methods courses.
Keywords: group work, hypothesis testing, original research
Leonard, Joshua N. (Chemical and Biological Engineering, 2009-2010)
Using Natural and Synthetic Biological Systems to Shift Context and Enhance Learning in Process Dynamics and Control
Mentor: Bill Miller
Chemical Engineering 341 – Process Dynamics and Control
An undergraduate chemical engineering education must build a unique set of core competencies and prepare students to solve open-ended problems in diverse fields ranging from chemical catalysis to biotechnology. In pursuit of these goals, this project sought to promote student learning by updating and enhancing the core process dynamics and control course. The central teaching innovation was to use natural and synthetic (engineered) biological systems to shift the context in which course concepts were developed and applied. This approach was most successful when the contextual shift served as an extension of established general principles to concrete, novel problems.
Keywords: problem-based learning, contextualized content, active learning
Leonardi, Paul (Communication Studies and Industrial Engineering/Management Sciences, 2009-2010)
Using Structure and Experience to Enhance Memory of Course Concepts
Mentor: Bill White
Organizational Behavior and Innovation (IEMS 342/ CS366)
Undergraduate students who take a class on management are interested in the topic, but they have trouble remembering and applying course concepts because they have little real-world experience managing people. Soon after graduating from Northwestern, they find themselves in management roles and trying to remember concepts and tools they learned in the course. My project uses ideas of experiential learning and chunking (splitting core concepts into similar categories) to help students to remember important concepts not only throughout the term, but also at a later time when they find themselves in positions to use and apply them.
Keywords: memory, retention, chunking, experiential learning
Losh, Molly (Communication Sciences and Disorders, 2012-2013)
Introducing students to autism: Development of a new course
Mentor: Jerilyn Logemann
This project focused on developing a new course, Autism Spectrum Disorders, CSD 382. Primary course objectives were to provide an overview of autism including clinical presentation, potential causes, diagnosis, and controversial issues such as changing prevalence, and myths about the causes of autism. Teaching methods included integrating formal lectures with class discussion and small group activities, brief assessments of student comprehension, and evaluating critical thinking though exams, discussion activities, and a term paper. Student feedback was solicited periodically (e.g., mid-quarter reviews, evaluations of group assignments) and used to evaluate progress and modify instructional practices.
Keywords: autism, interactive lecture, group discussion
Luo, Xunrong (Medicine, 2009-2010)
Meeting the Expectations
Mentor: Steve Miller
This project attempted to test strategies in a research laboratory setting that would maximize individual potentials, promote intellectual synergy and enhance group productivity. This critical account reports the salient points identified in this process as individual vignettes. It concludes that motivational strategies should be highly individualized, and that meeting expectations is a mutual process and satisfaction is frequently found somewhere mid-way.
Keywords: motivation, expectation, individualization, group synergy
Ma, Yong-Chao (Pediatrics, 2009-2010)
Teaching Great Experiments by Listening to Our Learners
Mentor: Rick McGee
NUIN 411: Great Experiments in Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience
During my teaching of NUIN 411: Great Experiments in Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience, I tested a more student-oriented flexible teaching approach by listening closely to the learners, to more efficiently engage students and to better align the learning and teaching goals. With the new approach, teaching objects were chosen by students to meet their diverse needs. Students also brought in real-life projects for critical analysis and comments. The assessment was changed to testing how to solve practical experimental questions creatively. These approaches motivated students, better accommodated their diverse backgrounds, and significantly enhanced the teaching outcome.
Keywords: student-oriented learning, flexibility, motivation
Maguire, Emily A. (Spanish & Portuguese, 2010-2011)
Writing about Literature in the Foreign Language Curriculum
Mentor: Lucille Kerr
Spanish 220: Introduction to Literary Analysis
This project re-designed a 200-level course from the undergraduate Spanish curriculum to better reflect the function the course needed to serve as the first literature course for Spanish majors and minors and as key building block in the curriculum. While retaining a focus on learning key vocabulary and concepts utilized in literary analysis, the course was revised to better engage students in the progressive development of writing skills geared towards writing about literature.
Keywords: literary analysis, writing, language-literature curriculum
McHugh, Megan (Center for Healthcare Studies, 2012-2013)
Experience with a Hybrid Distance Learning Course Structure in a Graduate-Level Health Services Research Course
Mentor: Jane Holl
HSR 440: Disparities in Healthcare
The purpose of this effort was to understand student and faculty experiences with a hybrid, 3-modality course format (synchronous, asynchronous, and in-person meetings) in a health services research course, and to identify lessons learned to inform future efforts. Students appreciated the flexibility of distance learning, but reported that they felt most engaged during in-person meetings. Faculty reported that it was no more time consuming to prepare for a synchronous or asynchronous meeting (as compared to an in-person meeting) and that they would be willing to use distance learning again. However, they believed that the learning experience was not as rich for students. Technical issues were encountered frequently, and were distracting to class activities.
Keywords: distance learning, health services research, faculty satisfaction, student satisfaction
Mersey, Rachel Davis (Journalism, 2009-2010)
Audiences: Using Client-Based Learning to Encourage Practice-Oriented Students to Use Theories to Create Journalism Products
Mentor: Ed Malthouse
OUR 455: Audience Insight
Client-based learning allows professionally oriented students to apply research methods and theories to real-world problems. The goal is to create evidence-based editorial growth strategies for journalism organizations.
Keywords: client-based learning, real-world problems, research methods
Murphey, Todd D. (Mechanical Engineering, 2009-2010)
Learning Mathematical Reasoning Using Project-Based Instruction
Mentor: Ed Colgate
ME 314—Machine Dynamics
EA 3—Introduction to Engineering
Mathematical reasoning has historically played a central role in engineering, but two important things have changed. Students are less interested in the mathematical aspects of what they will do as engineers. Moreover, computational techniques have advanced sufficiently that calculations are now largely tasked to computers. This project aims to understand what role mathematical reasoning still plays in engineering practice and whether or not students can be engaged in mathematical reasoning in their undergraduate experience.
Keywords: mathematical reasoning, project-based learning, independent learning
Murray, Wendy (Biomedical Engineering, 2010-2011)
How to Teach Sophomore Engineering Students to Apply Fundamental Knowledge to Unfamiliar Problems
Mentor: Rob Linsenmeier
BMD_ENG 271: Introduction to Biomechanics
The ability to project one vector in the direction of another vector is a skill that is integral to mechanics. Although vector algebra is taught and applied in prerequisites to BMD_ENG 271: Introduction to Biomechanics, formative assessments completed in my class over the course of 4 years consistently support the need to improve performance in this area. Because of my experiences in the 2010-11 Searle Fellows Program, my focus for the next iteration of my class has moved away from continued diagnostics of the problem and moved toward effective communication of the objectives of a deep approach to understanding this important concept.
Keyword: deep approaches to learning, troublesome concepts, alignment
Nasir, Sazzad (Communication Sciences and Disorders, 2012-2013)
Discover relevance through collaborative learning
Mentor: Charles Larson
CSD 307: Acoustic Phonetics
This teaching project develops ideas that promote critical thinking in a classroom of professional students with diverse learning backgrounds. In the redesigned course we plan to achieve active learning through a collaborative framework, enriching students’ learning experiences through group work. A key element of the course redesign is that students will be required to discover relevance to their career goals through group-led research projects, and hence, will feel more connected to the course, promoting a more enjoyable learning experience. Students in their groups will participate in problem-based learning and will identify research projects relevant to their professions. Students will further work on their projects in groups, making final presentations to the entire class. Students will be assessed on individual comprehension of course material through exams, and on their collaborative research projects through peer assessment as well as individual reports in which they identify how work on the project contributed to the process of, “relevance discovery.”
Keywords: problem-based learning; collaborative learning; relevance discovery
Nevin, Mary (Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, 2011-2012)
Education for Best Practices in Pediatric Asthma: Continuing Medical Education for the General Pediatrician
Mentor: Ramsay Fuleihan
A significant proportion of pediatric asthma care is delivered by the primary care provider in the community. The provision of pediatric asthma care which is consistent with published national quality guidelines has known impact, not only on asthma related morbidity and mortality but also on health care utilization and cost. Despite these facts, adherence to these quality guidelines by the pediatric physician remains sub-optimal. In the current project, a readily accessible series of web based educational modules which review the approach to the evaluation and management of children with asthma were developed for approximately 350-400 physicians in 150 pediatric practices in the Chicago metropolitan area. The current project’s goal was to provide clinically applicable and updated knowledge which could be readily utilized by the practitioner to provide optimal asthma care in the setting of a busy outpatient pediatric practice.
Keywords: clinical skills, continuing medical education, technology
Nicholas, Jennifer (Medical Imaging, 2011-2012)
Preparing Radiology Residents for Independent Call in a Pediatric Hospital via an iPad-based Curriculum
Mentor: Marianne Green
call preparation, independent practice, tablet computer (iPad)
The purpose of this project is to develop an effective call preparation curriculum, which can be administered to radiology residents via tablet computers (specifically, the Apple iPad), before they take independent overnight radiology call at Children’s Memorial Hospital (CMH).
Keywords: call preparation, independent practice, tablet computer (iPad)
Odom, Brian (Physics & Astronomy, 2009-2010)
An Interactive Advanced Physics Course
Mentor: Michael Schmitt
Atom Trapping and Applications
Physics education research shows that traditional teaching methods often do not produce the desired levels of student learning. In addition, two sets of skills, scientific presentation skills and quantitative estimation skills, are areas of training which are extremely important for careers in science and yet are often neglected in undergraduate and graduate physics classroom education. In the project presented here, I develop a non-traditional interactive course focused on my area of research, Atom Trapping and Applications, with the specific goal of developing the presentation and quantitative estimation skills of advanced undergraduates and graduate students.
Keywords: interactive, presentation, estimation
Pearlman, Wendy (Political Science, 2011-2012)
Blogging on Current Events: Applying Class Learning beyond the Lecture Hall
Mentor: Reuel Rogers
Political Science 351 is a large lecture class offering an introductory survey of Middle East politics. In attempting to improve this course, I have had two objectives. First, I have sought to make the lecture format more engaging by adding new elements of active and interactive learning. Second, I have sought to enhance the direct relevance of the course by encouraging students to use class materials to enrich their understanding and analysis of current affairs. With these goals in mind, I retained features of the class that I found to be effective in past years and introduced a new component: a class blog. I created eight threads, each dedicated to a different country or group of countries in the region. Students were required to post two comments that built on material from class to make original commentaries on news topics of their choosing. The blog aimed to encourage free and critical thinking, as well as dialogue and debate on important topics. A survey to be administered during the last week of the quarter will assess students’ perceptions of the degree to which the assignment achieved these goals.
Keywords: class blogs and online discussion boards, real-world applications, student engagement
Pinkett, Heather W. (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology, 2009-2010)
Collaborative Learning in the Classroom
Mentor: Rick Gaber
In an effort to introduce collaborative learning into the Biochemistry 212-1 classroom, students participated in classroom discussions and projects with the overall goal of a deeper understanding of scientific concepts through mutual exploration. For the project, students were given a list of 10 biomedical problems to explore. As a group they must decide on a topic, engage in intellectual processing through discussions and write a scientific review. The students then work as a team to design a multimedia interactive presentation. The collaborative learning activity gave the students the opportunity to explore, understand and integrate new information as a group and then take an active role in peer teaching for a general audience.
Keywords: collaborative learning, active learning, small group learning
Puthumana, Jyothy (Cardiology, 2011-2012)
Focused Clinical experience - a Pilot Study
Mentor: Gary Martin
As part of the curriculum renewal at the Feinberg School of Medicine incorporation, early clinical exposure is being planned to complement didactic instruction to give a clinical context to learning issues. A focused clinical experience (FCE) is meant to expose the early learner, guided by a preceptor to clinical manifestations of disease through a focused history, clinical exam and related investigations. We conducted a pilot study in 2nd year medical students after their cardiovascular block to see if such a FCE would reinforce the clinical context of the basic science learning topics covered during that block. 95 students completed the initial questionnaire at the beginning of the cardiovascular block and about 45 of these students went through a FCE with a preceptor. Assessments were done using post exposure questionnaires. FCE helped to identify knowledge gaps, clear confusing concepts, and increased interest in clinical medicine with the greatest impact attributed to the preceptor, patient and review of tests and investigations.
Key words: cardiovascular disease, focused clinical experience
Rasminsky, Sonya (Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, 2010-2011)
Standard Setting for the Psychiatry OSCE
Mentor: Joan Anzia
Psychiatry Clerkship, Feinberg School of Medicine
An important element of assessment on the core psychiatry clerkship is student performance on the OSCE (Observed Structured Clinical Examination), a test in which students interact with patient-actors in standardized clinical scenarios. The exam aims to ensure that all students completing the psychiatry clerkship have achieved basic clinical competence, since they will all become physicians evaluating patients. Although we have been using this exam for many years, there have not been clear standards about what should constitute a minimum passing grade. For my Searle project, I conducted a formal standard-setting exercise, working with a group of faculty to determine the minimum acceptable performance for one of the cases that comprise the psychiatry OSCE.
Keywords: assessment, standard setting, clinical skills
Rivera-Servera, Ramón (Performance Studies, 2009-2010)
(Re)locating The Border: Performance and Pedagogy
Mentor: E. Patrick Johnson
This project adapted a performance studies doctoral course developed in and focused on the U.S.-Mexico border region for doctoral students in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. The course design retained a theoretical focus on the border while expanding the definition of the concept to transmigrated communities in the Chicago metropolitan area. In doing so, the course sought to replicate embodied ethnographic research experiences through cooperative learning techniques at various field sites in the Chicago region that evidence and perform cultural borderlands.
Keywords: ethnography; Borderlands Studies; cooperative learning
Rohrobach, Emily (English, 2011-2012)
Engaging Students in a Large Lecture Course
Mentor: Jules Law
My approach to engaging students in the large lecture course on British literature (Spring 2012) has been to use a variety of media (recent and historical images, video clips of films and interviews, etc.) to illustrate ideas related to the literary concepts and texts. Additionally, I have punctuated my lectures with critical questions. In Power Point slides, I present not only these questions, but also outlines that help students follow the logical organization of the lecture, key passages that I closely analyze during the lecture, and assorted other information. Feedback from students on midterm evaluations has been overall very positive, especially regarding the use of images and video clips and the way the midterm asked them not just to rehash information that had been delivered to them, but to think critically.
Keywords: engagement, imagination, questions
Rothstein, David H. (Pediatric Surgery, 2010-2011)
Just-in-Time Teaching in Pediatric Residency Training: Teaching Subspecialty Topics to Generalists
Mentor: Debra DaRosa
Much of didactic medical education takes place in a very teacher-centered format, with hour-long lectures provided by experts in a topic. Learning is passive, and the efficacy of this format is questionable. Just-in-time teaching is a concept originally described in the engineering sciences arena, whereby students are challenged to help guide lecture content based on readings distributed prior to class. Web-based responses to content questions help tailor lectures to address specific questions and to clarify points of confusion. This Searle project proposes to use just-in-time teaching in the education of Pediatrics residents by sub-specialists.
Keywords: subspecialty training, just-in-time teaching, knowledge retention
Ruo, Bernice (General Medicine, 2012-2013)
Incorporating Evidence-Based Medicine into the Clinical Curriculum
Mentor: Gary Martin
Teaching evidence-based medicine to medical school students has been done primarily in the classroom setting. Since learning is best reinforced in an applied manner, the goal of this project is to improve the frequency and quality of discussions about key evidence-based concepts in clinical discussions about patient care during third year clerkship rotations. To achieve this, I have worked with the Neurology department to improve the teaching of clinical cases about stroke. This process involves modifying student learning guides and faculty teaching guides as well as conducting review sessions for the faculty to introduce the revised guides and assure familiarity with the evidence-based medicine concepts. To measure the effect of this intervention, I will use student and faculty surveys in addition to adding questions to the student exam that is completed at the end of the neurology rotation.
Keywords: evidence-based medicine, clinical decision making, medical school curriculum
Schmidt, Carol (Ophthalmology, 2011-2012)
Teaching Ophthalmologic Surgical Skills: Taking a New Look at Educational Strategies
Mentor: Robert Ksuhner
Modern phacoemulsification cataract surgery evolved from a three-hour, general anesthetic, inpatient procedure to a twenty-minute, conscious sedation outpatient procedure. Teaching this delicate intraocular procedure demands experience, calm demeanor, and confidence. In the interest of patient safety, ACGME surgical competency mandates caused educators to replace the established apprentice (Halsted) model. They revised training protocols and assessment tools. Costly, yet intriguing, surgical stimulators recreate the intraocular experience and provide evaluation opportunities. In the ten years since the mandates, no standardized and validated ophthalmology surgical curriculum exists. Given the recent acquisition of the EYESI virtual-reality (VR) simulator and recent FSM curriculum renewal, the goal of this project was to reconsider our surgical teaching. Specifically, I formalized the PGY 2 microsurgical cataract skills curriculum with a learner-centered approach. I avoided passive power-point didactics with the incorporation of small-group learning, mentored wet-lab practice, and weekly VR simulation.
Keywords: deliberate practice, simulation, small-group collaborative learning
Shah, Ramille N. (Materials Science & Engineering & Orthopaedic Surgery, 2010-2011)
Building Knowledge and Skills through Practical Learning: Interactive Lectures, Practice-Based Assignments, and Collaborative Projects
Mentor: Ken Shull
MSC 395: Design of Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
This project incorporates active learning techniques, inter-related practical assignments, and collaborative projects to enhance student learning in a course that teaches design of biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. Multiple assessment techniques are developed to increase student participation, engagement, and overall student satisfaction.
Keywords: interactive lectures, practice-based assignments, collaborative projects
Smith, Jacob (Radio-TV-Film, 2012-2013)
Eco-Media as a Platform for Service Learning
Mentor: Hamid Naficy
This project involved the research and development required to create the plan of assessment for a new course on the environmental dimension of media technologies, to be taught in the Department of Radio-TV-Film at Northwestern University. Inspired by literature in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning on course preparation, group work, and service learning, I structured the course around a group project in which students work with community environmental organizations and document their experiences in the form of an audio project to be broadcast on the campus radio station.
Keywords: media studies, sustainability, environmental activism, ecology, service learning, course preparation, assessment
Statsuk, Alexander (Chemistry, 2012-2013)
Teaching Interdisciplinary Science
Mentor: Regan Thomson
Chemical Biology – 415-0-23
Interdisciplinary science, and chemistry in particular, is an emerging discipline which is shaping such fields as chemical biology, nanotechnology, chemical engineering, material science, and personalized medicine. It is therefore important to integrate interdisciplinary science into the teaching curriculum for both undergraduate and graduate students. Teaching interdisciplinary science is difficult, however, because, it requires students to have advanced backgrounds in science, and knowledge of multiple experimental techniques. It is also difficult to cover the large amount of diverse material during the lecture time. Strategies and tactics to teach interdisciplinary science to undergraduate and graduate students will be discussed in this proposal, including: how to take advantage of concept teaching, incorporate technology, and introduce more research relevant techniques.
Keywords: interdisciplinary science, team learning, creativity
Sun, Cheng (Mechanical Engineering, 2012-2013)
Promoting Active Learning with the Emphasis on Conceptual Problems
Mentor: Jane Wang
Course: ME202 Mechanics II
With an emphasis on prompting active learning in an undergraduate level engineering class, this project aimed to develop a new teaching methodology that assists students to develop analytical abilities with which they can effectively link forces with motion and thus develop better problem-solving skills. A set of conceptual problems was used in instruction for multiple purposes: 1) as a teaching module focused on underlying physics principles; 2) to promote in-class interaction among students; and 3) as an assessment tool to gauge student understanding of basic ideas.
Keywords: Mechanics, Conceptual Problem, and Active Learning
Szmuilowicz, Eytan (Medicine, 2009-2010)
Development and Assessment of a Palliative Care Curriculum for Hospital Medicine Physicians
Mentor: Jamie Von Roenn
Hospitalist physicians frequently care for patients at the end of life, but are underprepared to provide competent palliative care. A faculty development program was designed to address the self-identified needs of a group of academic hospitalists. Eleven hospitalists have participated in regular, case-based, small-group discussion sessions led by two content experts in Palliative Medicine. Project evaluation will consist of learner feedback, change in knowledge scores, changes in confidence to provide and teach palliative care principles, and chart audit. Challenges to implementation, unanticipated positive effects, and potential changes to the curriculum are reviewed.
Key words: faculty development, small-group discussion sessions, student-centered learning
Trainor, Jennifer (Pediatrics, 2012-2013)
A Pediatric Boot Camp for Graduating Medical Students to Help Prepare Them for Internship
Mentor: Mark Adler
During internship, increased clinical responsibilities require strong communication and organizational skills as well as the ability to apply medical knowledge. Relatively little time is devoted to pediatrics in undergraduate medical education. In order to address these training gaps, we developed a novel, one-week elective course with input from multiple sources, including educational experts, the medical literature, and feedback from recent graduates of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine (FSOM) who matched in Pediatrics, Medicine/Pediatrics or Family Medicine. Curriculum consisted of a combination of problem-based learning cases, simulation, didactics, videos, role-play, small group discussions, and debriefings to promote deep learning. At the end of the course, each participant completed a multi-station, objective-structured clinical exam that required synthesis and application of boot camp elements. Assessment instruments were utilized for each station. A faculty member debriefed students individually. All participants completed a post-course evaluation form.
Key Words: boot camp, curriculum development, internship readiness
Tyo, Keith E. J. (Chemical & Biological Engineering, 2011-2012)
Teaching Biological Concepts through Exploratory Computational Tools
Mentor: Wesley Burghardt
Problem-based learning, learning by solving complex problems in groups, is demonstrably effective in increasing student engagement and outcomes, and is an integral part of engineering education. This learner-centered approach was applied to molecular biology courses to engage students and give engineering students in particular an opportunity to use their quantitative skill set to learn biological mechanism. In this project, learning modules were developed to apply mathematical modeling principles to understand biological systems. Team-based projects showed students could use this approach to achieve higher order thinking concepts of analyzing, evaluating, and creating new systems.
Keywords: problem-based learning, team learning, quantitative models in biology
Wang, Yun (Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2009-2010)
Redesigning a Research-Based Course to Bridge Three Science Courses
Mentor: Jean-Franҫois Gaillard
In my project, I redesigned a research-based course, “Chemical and Biological Complexities in Natural Aqueous Environments,” to provide a platform for bridging environmental microbiology, chemistry and biogeochemistry for Environmental Engineering and Science major graduate students.
Keywords: proposal writing, engagement, interdisciplinary teaching
Weinreb, Alice (History, 2010-2011)
Encouraging Critical Thinking through Food History
Mentor: Sarah Maza
“Food, Hunger and Power in 19th and 20th century Europe“ and, ”The Making of the American Meal: Why Americans Eat how Americans Eat”
I have struggled with getting students to critically engage with history as a discipline. Often they define history as a factual narrative, and ‘success’ in a history class as successfully memorizing the appropriate information. Equally as common is an instinctual distancing of students from the material being taught as something that is separate from their own lives and only peripherally connected, if at all, to ‘real world’ concerns. I decided to use a historical topic that students find inherently interesting and ‘relevant’ to their own lives – food – in order to design courses explicitly aimed at developing critical thinking skills and student engagement. This worked best when paired with concrete writing exercises that reinforced these critical thinking skills and when the material being discussed was not too personally sensitive for the students.
Keywords: food history, critical thinking, engagement
Weiss, Emily A. (Chemistry, 2009-2010)
Development of a Problem-Based, Peer-Led Course in Multidisciplinary Science
Mentor: Karl Scheidt
Engineering and Chemistry in a Common Language (ECCeL):
Systems for Solar Energy Conversion
This document describes the rationale and plan for developing a course on multidisciplinary approaches to solar energy conversion for chemists and engineers at the senior undergraduate or first-year graduate level. This course will encourage communication between students from different specialized backgrounds by requiring them to critically evaluate the literature on a series of solar energy-related topics, and propose alternative solutions from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. Students’ achievement of four main learning objectives—(i) multidisciplinary understanding of various specific scientific problems, (ii) enhancement of group-learning and collaborative skills, (iii) appreciation of the scope and importance of solar energy-related research, and (iv) the ability to write “jargon-free” – will be assessed through group presentations and reports, writing samples, and a final exam.
Keywords: peer-led learning, problem-centered learning, multidisciplinary education, contextual learning
Yoshida, Masaya (Linguistics, 2010-2011)
Teaching Methods of Science through Experimental Psycholinguistics
Mentor: Stefan Kaufmann
In this project, I am developing a new course, Psycholinguistics. I focus on the ‚relevance‛ of theoretical and experimental linguistics courses for non-linguistics majors as well as linguistics majors. Normally in linguistics courses, students cannot figure out how linguistics is relevant to them. Facing this common challenge in linguistics courses, I point out that linguistics courses can be a good venue for learning scientific and critical thinking. Thus, in the current course design, aspects of scientific thinking are brought to the foreground and requirements and assessments are designed to help students learn scientific thinking.
Keywords: psycholinguistics, methods of science, peer reviews
Yosmaoglu, Ipek (History, 2012-2013)
Teaching a Research-Intensive Undergraduate Seminar, Challenges and Incentives
Mentor: Peter Carroll
HIS 395: The Making of Modern Turkey
In the required History 395 seminars, students are expected to write a research paper based on primary sources. This can be particularly challenging when the seminar topic is unfamiliar, and potential sources are inaccessible to the students because they are not written in English. Strategies such as early communication of course objectives, providing guidance in locating primary sources, breaking up the main assignment into manageable pieces, and providing feedback on ongoing work were implemented to mitigate the potential difficulties of teaching this type of course.
Keywords: analyzing primary sources, evaluating unfamiliar information, research skills
You, Fengqi (Chemical and Biological Engineering, 2012-2013)
Enhancing Students’ Learning in Capstone Design Projects: Motivation and Assessments
Mentor: Wesley Burghardt
Chem Eng 352: Chemical Engineering Design Projects
A number of teaching innovations on student motivation and assessments are applied to a chemical engineering senior capstone design course to engage students and improve the learning outcomes. Specific teaching activities experimented in this project-based course include restructuring the course following a “divide-and-conquer” approach, offering variety and choice of learning tasks to students, teaching learners of different levels, enhancing teamwork through subjective peer evaluation, and the development of rubrics for peer-grading. Feedback from the students about these teaching activities has been positive and assessment results show most of these teaching innovations help students to achieve deeper learning.
Keywords: motivation, assessments, group project, learners of different levels
Zhang, Hao (Biomedical Engineering, 2012-2013)
Project-driven Learning in Optical Microscopy
Mentor: Vadim Backman
Course Title: BME333 Modern Optical Microscopy and Imaging
Almost all the major universities in the U.S.A. are teaching optical microscopy courses in a traditional manner, relying solely on textbook, slides, and, recently, online modules. However, optical microscopy by nature is an experimental skill that requires intensive practices and can only be truly grasped through hands-on experiences. To fill this gap, I redesigned the curriculum of an existing optical microscopy course to include both individual labs and group projects that are tightly integrated with classroom lecturing. The newly designed course has been well received by students who have taken it in the past two years; however, there are still many challenges in improving the course in the future.
Keywords: Optical microscopy, peer mentoring, project-drive learning
Zheng, Jing (Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, 2010-2011)
Creating an Energetic Research Environment
Mentor: Claus-Peter Richter
This project aims to increase research productivity by enhancing team communication in a research-based laboratory. Through various communication skill exercises, trainees are expected to achieve five main objectives: (1) Enhance problem-solving skills. (2) Learn to present/understand scientific results more effectively. (3) Enhance critical thinking and learning. (4) Nurture scientific inspiration and motivation, and (5) Stimulate collaboration. The progress will be assessed through group presentations and writing reports.
Keywords: critical thinking, communication, motivation