CNDLS helps faculty, departments, and programs not only with “big picture” challenges in teaching, such as strategic goal setting and curriculum design, but also with the “on the ground” challenges of putting into place design and assessment strategies. CNDLS also works with Georgetown faculty to gather student feedback on the effectiveness of teaching methods and learning experiences. With these galleries, we showcase faculty projects that exemplify the spirit of inquiry-based teaching that we value as a center.
Here we explore a number of themes that are evident in many thoughtful course and assignment designs. These themes, while by no means exhaustive, represent learning experiences that are designed to engage students in higher-order thinking, authentic and meaningful interactions, and professionally formative practices, all of which are important approaches to educating Georgetown students to be reflective lifelong learners.
CNDLS works with faculty to promote learning beyond the hilltop and encourages course projects that bring students together with members of the community. Community engagement enriches coursework by encouraging students to apply knowledge and skills developed in the classroom to issues affecting local communities.
In her philosophy course, Heather Voke gave undergraduate students the opportunity to work locally, identifying real-life community concerns, developing and implementing solutions, and evaluating the effectiveness of those solutions. The course enabled students to deepen their understanding of civic theories by experiencing those theories in action.
To help undergraduates think about difference, particularly to think about student veterans, Sylvia Onder led her Medical Anthropology students in a number of tasks that pushed them beyond their comfort zones. Combining community-based experiences with anonymous journal writing, Onder was able to deepen student engagement with diversity and help them see through a new perspective.
Jennifer Lubkin exposed EFL students to diverse perspectives by facilitating meaningful engagement with the local deaf community, both at Georgetown and in the greater D.C. area. Students in her class read the memoir Deaf in D.C., participated in the DiversABILITY Forum, and took a field trip to meet with students and faculty at Gallaudet University.
Georgetown faculty acknowledge the importance of involving undergraduates in research early in their academic careers. CNDLS works with faculty members to develop opportunities for students to conduct research, both independently and collaboratively, through projects that have a deep impact on the students’ learning and development as future professionals in their field.
In order to prepare ecology students for real-world practices and problems faced by the field, Gina Wimp immersed her undergraduate students in a wide range of research projects and skill-development activities. From engagement with primary sources to fieldwork to environmental activism, Wimp ensured that her students experienced what it means to be an ecologist in a changing field.
Adel Iskandar encourages the development of students’ research skills by participating in the Wikipedia Education Program. In developing Wikipedia articles focusing on the rapidly changing Arab world, students are challenged to investigate newly unfolding information, evaluate the reliability of sources, and write about evolving issues in neutral and informative ways.
Anne Rosenwald believes in acquainting undergraduates with experiential lab work, evaluation of methodology, and precise scientific writing early in their academic careers. Partnering with the Genome Education Partnership for one of her courses, Rosenwald used online tools for protein and DNA analysis that gave students the opportunity to accomplish meaningful independent research.
Large classes can present a variety of challenges, from keeping students engaged to providing students with meaningful and timely feedback. CNDLS helps faculty design and implement a range of pedagogical practices to meet these challenges and improve student learning in large classes.
Mark Rom began using a course blog to facilitate discussion and personal interaction among the 150 students in his Introduction to the US Political System course. What began as a simple shift in discussion from in person to online became an opportunity for undergraduates to engage with each other in meaningful ways and to create a lasting record of student learning.
Frank Ambrosio created a multimedia, digital platform, MyDante, that helps students engage personally with the the text. MyDante allows students to create personalized, annotated versions of the Divine Comedy and engage in collaborative projects online, transforming the course from a large lecture class into an interdisciplinary colloquium.
Mahlet Tadesse has found that students need to work through a lot of practice problems when reinforcing statistical concepts; however, providing constant feedback to 200 students is nearly impossible. To help provide timely feedback, Tadesse integrated MathXL and Clicker technology into her coursework.