Pages

    Tracking the Learning Process Using Design Notebooks

    Given the messiness of the design process, it’s important for students to be able to track their own learning while they engage in projects. In this video, Eric Mazur outlines how he uses design notebooks in his class in which students document all elements of their project- and team-building experience. Students submit design notebooks with their completed projects and are graded for their completeness and quality of reflections. These notebooks help reinforce the principles of iterative development that underpin project-based learning and further emphasize the...

    Read more about Tracking the Learning Process Using Design Notebooks

    Using Cases in the Case-Based Collaborative Learning Classroom

    When disciplinary knowledge is presented only in the abstract, students miss a critical opportunity to understand how this knowledge can be applied to solve professional dilemmas. In Barbara Cockrill’s Case-Based Collaborative Learning (CBCL) classroom, students study key medical concepts on their own and then work together in class to apply this knowledge to realistic scenarios they are likely to see in future practice. As a result, students gain a storehouse of contextual knowledge, real-world clarifications of concepts, and practice solving professional puzzles...

    Read more about Using Cases in the Case-Based Collaborative Learning Classroom

    Designing a Case-Based Collaborative Learning Case

    Crafting a strong case requires not only selecting a problem for students to solve but also thinking through how students will solve this problem. Effective cases require a certain level of productive struggle from students. Effective CBCL case solutions are not merely fill-in-the-blank or, as Barbara Cockrill says, “Google-able.” Instead, instructors may strategically bury key information or include potentially relevant details to add complexity to the case. Often the hardest part of crafting a case is achieving, in Cockrill’s words, “desirable difficulty.”

    Read more about Designing a Case-Based Collaborative Learning Case

    Structuring the Case Discussion

    Well-designed cases are intentionally complex. Therefore, presenting an entire case to students all at once has the potential to overwhelm student groups and lead them to overlook key details or analytic steps. Accordingly, Barbara Cockrill asks students to review key case concepts the night before, and then presents the case in digestible “chunks” during a CBCL session. Structuring the case discussion around key in-depth questions, Cockrill creates a thoughtful interplay between small group work and whole group discussion that makes for more systematic forays into...

    Read more about Structuring the Case Discussion

    Experiencing the case as a student team

    Student collaboration is instrumental in effective CBCL classrooms. In contrast to impersonal lecture settings, small groups provide students with supportive, low-stakes environments to wrestle with course concepts and test out solutions before sharing their responses with the wider group. In Barbara Cockrill’s CBCL classroom, small groups of four are maintained through the entirety of the semester. The close relationships that students build with each other are sustained through norms that groups set for themselves. Cockrill reflects that this collaborative...

    Read more about Experiencing the case as a student team

    Circulating the room during small group case discussions

    Though small group time is student time, instructors can glean important information about student learning by strategically eavesdropping. In this video, Barbara Cockrill reflects on her rationales for continually circulating during small group case discussions. Among those discussed are listening for and addressing misconceptions, priming particular groups to share out during subsequent whole group dialogues, and finding an opportunity to spotlight quiet students.

    Read more about Circulating the room during small group case discussions

    Sharing relevant experiences from the field

    While too much storytelling from an instructor can pull a lesson off-track, a strategically placed anecdote from the field can substantially enliven a case. In Barbara Cockrill’s Homeostasis I course, instructors are practicing physicians themselves, and they find ways to purposefully share prior field experiences with students to illuminate otherwise abstract concepts. What one student calls “pearls of wisdom” also spur impromptu but vital conversations about the many ethical dilemmas practitioners face.

    Read more about Sharing relevant experiences from the field

    Moving class forward while honoring curiosity spurred by the case

    A central tension many instructors face is how to keep a lesson moving forward while also encouraging students’ inquisitiveness and answering their questions. As Barbara Cockrill describes in this video, curiosity is something teachers should be careful not to “thwart.” However, some insights or questions raised by students can quickly pull a carefully timed class off-track. In this video, Cockrill describes how she honors students’ curiosity while also managing potential tangents that students raise. In particular, she discusses how to manage the especially inquisitive student and...

    Read more about Moving class forward while honoring curiosity spurred by the case

    Channeling expertise in the room to enhance the case

    Classrooms, especially those at the graduate level, are mosaics of students with wide-ranging backgrounds and areas of expertise. In case-based classes where disciplinary knowledge is situated in context, drawing on this reservoir of expertise can help incorporate more voices into the classroom and enhance case discussions. In this video, Barbara Cockrill’s students discuss the value of working with peers from different disciplinary backgrounds, and Cockrill solicits input from one particular student to make a high-stakes case even more relevant.

    Read more about Channeling expertise in the room to enhance the case

    Building Structure and Flexibility into Case Lesson Plans

    While spontaneity and fluidity are important hallmarks of case discussions, effective case discussion leaders always enter the classroom with a teaching plan. In this video, Julie Battilana discusses the key components of a case teaching plan and how to build flexibility into it. By structuring her plan around discussion blocks and key questions, she ensures that she can cover the most important concepts and issues in the case while letting students lead the conversation. 

    Using Boards to organize and structure class thinking

    Chalkboards may not be the most advanced instructional tool in today’s classroom, but they are very useful for tracking and organizing student comments on the fly. In this video, Julie Battilana describes how she enters each case discussion having already thought through how and where she will track her students’ comments on the nine chalkboards in her classroom. This planning reaps dividends for students who describe how they use notes on the boards to keep track of their classmates’ points of view and capture the key ideas and frameworks presented during class in...

    Read more about Using Boards to organize and structure class thinking

    Introducing frameworks to connect case specifics to broader concepts

    One reason students enjoy learning through the case method is that each case reads like a unique story. Cases typically present a case protagonist embedded in a complex environment and pressed to make a decision in the face of challenges and uncertainty. Though the details of the case give it depth and interest, instructors frequently introduce frameworks during case discussions. Frameworks build students’ understanding of the case at hand while helping them generalize case specifics into conceptual knowledge. In this video, Julie Battilana describes the “Agitator,...

    Read more about Introducing frameworks to connect case specifics to broader concepts

    Referring back to student comments as discussion touchstones

    Over the course of a 90-minute whole class discussion, it can be easy to forget what was said ten minutes ago, let alone an hour ago. In this video, Julie Battilana describes how she listens carefully to student comments and then refers back to them to highlight complementaries, acknowledge a disagreement, or emphasize a particularly insightful point. By strategically referring back to these discussion touchstones, Battilana helps students develop a mental model of the class conversation and its contours.

    Read more about Referring back to student comments as discussion touchstones

    Engaging in extended dialogue with students

    Facilitating a strong case discussion involves not only asking students questions but carefully listening to their responses and following up. In this video, Julie Battilana describes how she frequently stays with a student after asking them a question and poses repeated follow-ups to ensure that both she and the rest of the class have fully understood the student’s thinking. Though being questioned by your professor may sound intimidating at first, Battilana uses this move to convey that she is deeply interested in and attentive to students’ ideas -- that she is “...

    Read more about Engaging in extended dialogue with students

    Probing student disagreement to achieve deeper understanding

    Cases are designed so that students synthesize complex information, analyze potential paths forward, and then take a stand on what the protagonist should do next. Throughout this process, students will likely disagree with each other. Rather than glossing over student disagreement, Julie Battilana describes how she highlights differences in opinion and then pushes the class to do additional analysis so they better understand why they disagree. Digging into these disagreements rather than shying away from them ultimately provides, Battilana explains, “a wonderful...

    Read more about Probing student disagreement to achieve deeper understanding

    Using movement to increase intimacy, energy, and visibility

    Keeping students engaged in a large, lengthy class is challenging for any instructor. To help her students stay interested and focused, Julie Battilana channels her vigorous and infectious enthusiasm into each class session. In this video, Battilana describes how she uses movement to keep the class energy high, to connect personally with students, and to ensure that no students stay off her radar in class. The result is a non-stop, energetic case session that flies by for her students.

    Read more about Using movement to increase intimacy, energy, and visibility

    Tracking student participation to ensure all students contribute

    In a fast-paced case discussion, it can be easy to lose track of the students who have not recently spoken up. In order to make sure that all students’ voices are heard in her classroom, Julie Battilana tracks student participation and then looks for the hands of students who have not spoken in the past three classes. To support students who may feel less confident speaking up in class, she also employs “warm calls,” giving students a heads up that she is going to call on them later in class. These strategies ensure that by the end of the course, all students have...

    Read more about Tracking student participation to ensure all students contribute

    Using Simulations in the Case-Based Collaborative Learning Classroom

    In contrast to paper cases, simulations in the classroom push students to enact what they have learned. In Homeostasis I, instructors immerse groups of students in high-stress, realistic hospital scenarios. The exercise forces student groups to collectively come to a consensus about treatment and quickly, all the while navigating the stress that accompanies taking care of patients. From the instructors’ end, engineering such a learning space requires hitting what Richard Schwartzstein calls the “sweet spot,” in which students are agitated enough to make...

    Read more about Using Simulations in the Case-Based Collaborative Learning Classroom

    Designing a Simulation Session

    Simulation scenarios are carefully chosen in order to build on and complicate textbook concepts in realistic settings. In this way, Homeostasis I is a “flipped classroom”: students prepare and learn concepts independently while time in class presents opportunities to put those concepts into practice and synthesize them during simulation-inspired discussions. Richard Schwartzstein underscores this element of transfer as critical to simulation design. Accordingly, the concepts students confront in the learning exercise might be “foundationally the same” but presented...

    Read more about Designing a Simulation Session

    Planning for Unpredictability in Simulations

    Teacher-driven lessons afford instructors the luxury (and limitations) of a predictable plan. By contrast, the learning that emerges out of simulations is evolving, spontaneous, and contingent on the specific set of individuals participating. For facilitators, these circumstances require being open to students’ thinking and flexible with lesson plans, without letting efficiency or structure go by the wayside. Richard Schwartzstein calls the “unscripted” nature of simulations the challenge and fun in their facilitation. Noting that “no two sessions are exactly the...

    Read more about Planning for Unpredictability in Simulations

Pages