Teaching & Learning Lab’s Better Teaching@MIT Series

Leann Dobranski, Assistant Director, TLL

The Teaching and Learning Laboratory presented its annual Better Teaching@MIT lunchtime workshop series during the final week of IAP. Each daily session in the series provided information on topics prompting teachers to consider different ideas on classroom presentation techniques, motivating students, and engaging students individually.

The week began with a panel discussion entitled, Tech’s Top Teachers Talk Turkey. This year, in collaboration with Hibur: the MIT-Technion Link, students from Israel were able to join the MIT community in a Q&A session with the panel through interactive videoconferencing. The panel, moderated by TLL’s Director, Dr. Lori Breslow, was comprised of MIT faculty, TAs, and instructors and had a joint audience of nearly 75.

Better Teaching@MIT also included a thoughtful workshop led by Jane Dunphy, Director of English Language Studies and Karl Reid, Director of the Office of Minority Education, dedicated to the appreciation of MIT’s cultural diversity. They addressed special considerations for teaching in a multicultural classroom. Another session discussed how teachers can adapt the skills used by athletic coaches to motivate students in an academic setting.Teaching and Learning Lab Logo

The series closed with a lively presentation on the benefits of Interactive Teaching by Dr. Sanjoy Mahajan and Dr. Janet Rankin, both Associate Directors at TLL. Exemplifying an interactive teaching approach in the workshop, participants were presented an example of hearing sound at a certain frequency and then asked how it would change, given certain changes in conditions. Opinions and reasons were discussed in small groups, and then in a relaxed interviewing style, instructors probed the groups for its conclusions. “By asking students questions based on key concepts, you engage students,” said Dr. Mahajan. “You also learn what concepts they find most confusing.” In another example, the entire class physically modeled solid state diffusion, with each person serving as an individual atom moving in a lattice.