Provost's Seminar on Teaching and Learning


January 19-21, 2010

New Approaches to Improving Student Learning and Classroom Practice

2010's Provost’s Seminar on Teaching and Learning offered three opportunities for faculty to participate in ongoing discussions about teaching, learning and the curriculum, building on the Provost’s Call to Action: Curriculum and Learning at Georgetown and the 2009 Fall Faculty Convocation’s focus on teaching and learning at Georgetown.

Find resources from the three events below.

Tuesday, January 19, 10-12
English Dept. Conference Room, New North 311
“A Systematic Approach to Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Theses”

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Featuring: Julie Reynolds, Department of Biology, Duke University

BioTAP is a teaching and assessment tool designed to formalize the process of advising undergraduate thesis projects. BioTAP’s approach has already been adapted for use in other disciplines, including Chemistry, Economics, Engineering, and Literature, and will become increasingly relevant as more and more undergraduates are encouraged to undertake significant research projects.

Professor Reynolds’ research interests include the assessment of student writing, the assessment of critical thinking, and the evaluation of the efficacy of teaching technologies.

Wednesday, January 20, 1-3
Philosophy Dept. Conference Room, New North 204
“New Approaches for Improving Student Engagement in Large Enrollment Classes”

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In this session, a panel of Georgetown faculty members shared what they have learned from experimenting with new approaches in large enrollment classes. For example, some faculty members have been surprised to discover how the use of lecture capture technology has changed what they are able to accomplish in the classroom. Other faculty have developed unexpected uses for clicker devices which go far beyond simple multiple choice questions. Other strategies, including online discussion boards and small group work, were also explored.

Thursday, January 21, 10:30-1:00 (includes lunch)
Riggs Library
“Big Concepts and Instructional Bottlenecks: the ‘Decoding the Disciplines’ Approach”

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Featuring: David Pace, Professor of History and Co-Director of the Freshman Learning Project, Indiana University

Remarks: Provost Jim O’Donnell

In this presentation, David Pace explained the process of “decoding the disciplines” developed by Indiana University’s History Learning Project, which is designed to address learning “bottlenecks” that students encounter in the context of introductory courses. In this process, professors are encouraged to model the basic steps in disciplinary practice, which are often second nature to experts but can be puzzling to students. Professor Pace has found that exploring the gaps between faculty expectations and student misunderstandings can yield useful insights about the teaching and learning process.

The Decoding the Disciplines Project was recently featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In addition to serving as Co-Director of the Freshman Learning Project, historian David Pace is currently a Pew Fellow in the Carnegie Academy of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. He has long been recognized for his innovative teaching and commitment to curricular reform.