iClicker User Group: May 12th

ITG is hosting an iClicker User Group on Thursday, May 12, 2pm – 3pm  in the CIT Room 201 to discuss how iClickers are used on campus, what we can do to improve the service, and what options are available for mobile polling. Please RSVP online if you’d like to attend in person. Agenda to follow.
http://brownatc.libcal.com/event.php?id=1123183

Can’t make it in person? We want to hear from you! Please take a moment to fill out our short survey.

2014 TWTA Winner Monica Linden

Instructor: Professor Monica Linden
Course: NEUR1030 Neural Systems

Description: NEUR1030- Neural Systems is a large lecture course serving about 130 students and required for Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroscience concentrators. In the course, students are pushed to work on their higher-order cognitive skills including applying concepts to new situations and interpreting and analyzing data and research findings.

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2012 TWTA Winner: Ira Wilson

Instructor: Ira Wilson

Course: PHP0310 Spring13 Health Care in the United States

Objectives: “My main teaching objectives revolve around how to make the subject matter – Health Care in the United States – accessible, interesting, and relevant to an undergraduate audience. The 3 main segments of the course are health care financing, health care providers, and health care regulation. These are all topics that have the potential to be stultifyingly boring. I use several strategies to try to bring the subject ‘to life.'”

Outcomes: “Outcomes are harder to assess. The class has grown from about 145 students, to 200 students, to 266 students in the 3 years I have taught the course, which probably speaks in part to the interrelated approaches to teaching/learning described above. It is my subjective view that the kinds of questions that people ask from one year to the next are increasingly sophisticated, which is exciting to me.”

Methods:

  1. “Habits of inquiry and analysis. I try to use this subject matter as an example of how to learn about any complex subject that is by its very nature multidisciplinary (i.e., it has elements of history, sociology, economics, politics, anthropology, and others). Insight requires that you think about the topic from a variety of different directions using tools and perspectives from many disciplines, and the habit of doing so is fully generalizable to virtually every other type of inquiry in the social sciences that one might engage in.

  2. Never dumb things down. I try to do is expose students to the kinds of concepts and ideas that graduate students and faculty write grants and papers about, but to do so in a way that is appropriate for their level of experience and sophistication. This can be challenging when some are freshman and other are senior health econ majors. This general approach comes directly from Jerome Bruner’s concept of the “spiral curriculum.” I find it very interesting, and very challenging, to present complex and sophisticated concepts like “risk adjustment” or “adverse selection” that health economists argue about in their subspecialty journals to a very diverse undergraduate audience.

  3. Make learning relevant and personal. I try to use narrative to its fullest extent as a teaching tool. In this class that means using cases and stories about real people getting real care. This is just one method to make it clear, again and again, that we may be talking about reimbursement methods, bureaucracies, and approaches to regulation and quality control – but at the bottom if it all are sick people who need timely, high quality care. It is really easy to lose this connection and make learning about structural aspects of care delivery dry and uninteresting. Sections are also designed to get students to think about how class materials relate to them and their families.

  4. Finally, using technology. The technologies that I use include trying to use Canvas to its fullest extent, using iClickers, and also videos. First, regarding Canvas (which I am sure I do not use to its fullest extent), I not only use the home page for the course as a message board, I also have a section called “In the News” that I used to post articles, papers, videos, and other links that are relevant to current class discussion. These are usually things that can be reviewed in 5-10 minutes and help bring home the point that relevant things are happening today all around the country that are relevant to what we are studying.”

Recommendations:

The hardest thing about using technology is that it is a tool, a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself. This is fundamental and obvious, but easy to forget when the “cool” factor of some types of technologies is so high. The mistakes I have made (and I experiment a lot, so there are lots of mistakes!) generally come when I haven’t carefully thought through the teaching point that I want to make, and use a technology for the sake of the technology rather than to make a specific teaching point in a specific way.