Category Archives: Student-Centered Pedagogy

Website screenshot showing five student group projects

The Museum of Us: Student Projects from Arts in NYC at Baruch College

TLH Faculty Fellow Cheryl Smith (English, Baruch College) teaches a course called, Arts in NYC, which is a humanities seminar for first-year students. The final project for the course was a group curation project of an online exhibit around a theme of their choice. Their exhibits are gathered together in what the students chose to call “The Museum of Us.”

Professor Smith tells us,

“This project was profoundly shaped by our work together in the TLH Seminar—our discussions and readings. I see the focus on empathy, care, creativity, voice, and representation emerge in these projects. I’m proud of the work my students did and grateful I could provide a space for nurturing it; I think they were genuinely proud of their work, too. It’s been a long, hard semester for many of us, and it’s so nice to end on this kind of positive note.”

You can view the student group projects on their website (opens in a new window). Projects are titled, “Plugged In: The Playlists of the Pandemic,” ‘“I”dentity,’ “Baruch 25 Student Journal: New Beginnings,” “Pandemic-Centric Inclusivity,” and “Tranquility in a City that Never Sleeps.” Thank you, Dr. Smith and students for sharing your impressive work from the semester!

Exploring Bravery in the Classroom

Bravery is not often discussed in the classroom, but it takes a certain amount of bravery to overcome fears that students and teachers may feel. How are supportive and inviting classrooms cultivated to help students overcome their hesitation to participate?

On December 2, 2021, TLH hosted this 1-hour interactive panel discussion with four Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows, Heather Huggins (Queensborough Community College), Alyse Keller (Kingsborough Community College), Susan Phillip (New York City College of Technology), and Tom Zlabinger (York College). In the first part of the event, each panelist shared their unique experiences and expertise cultivating bravery in the classroom followed by open dialogue with attendees, which was not recorded.

The presentations incorporate feedback on the topic from Huggins, Keller, Zlabinger, and Phillips’ students, and provide a breadth of perspectives and ideas for how to encourage courage. Thank you all for organizing this thoughtful and thought-provoking event.

Bravery in the Classroom

On December 2, 2021, Transformative Learning in the Humanities hosted this 1-hour interactive panel discussion with four Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows, Heather …

Video screen grab showing a student's essay and illustration of a tree in the palm of a hand and the title, Change Within"

Engaging students in the larger conversation

The team at TLH was thrilled to receive an email from Faculty Fellow Lara Saguisag (College of Staten Island, English), who wanted to share her students projects from the semester. Connecting the work in the classroom to what’s going on in the outside world had a big impact on her students, who completed their final projects with passion and excitement. Dr. Saguisag co-led the recent event, Creating Communities of Care in our Classrooms, a must-see presentation and conversation with TLH Faculty Fellows Jason Hendrickson (LaGuardia Community College), Reiko Tahara (Hunter College), and Cheryl C. Smith (Baruch College) and students about building community to support student success.

The theme of her ENL 323 section was was Narratives of Adolescence and Environmental Justice. Students produced a website that aims to engage young people in environmental justice. It includes reviews of books/films, profiles of youth activists, environmental justice actions young people can take, and much more. Check out the website, titled Call for Change (opens in a new window).

Her ENH 209 course theme was Literatures, Technologies, and Environments. For their final project, students had a public reading of poems, letters, and research projects which you can view here:

Public Reading: ENH 209 Culminating Activity

Final projects by the students of ENH 209: Literatures and Global Cultures (Fall 2021), College of Staten Island-City University of New York. These presentat…

She writes:

“Being part of TLH has really transformed my teaching and helped me think about designing assignments that allow students to become part of larger conversations. My students drew from their experiences and knowledges and were very passionate and excited about these projects. I just wanted to share these links with you as a way of thanking you for everything you do, for all you do to advocate for transformative learning.”

Thank you, Lara, for transforming your classes!

What is a “Flipped Classroom”?

In the “flipped classroom” model, currently used by CUNY Professors Donna McGregor and Pamela Mills in the Chemistry department at Lehman College, content explication is moved out of the classroom, which frees the teacher from delivering content via the lecture format. Instead, that content is ported to an at-home format (e.g., video instruction), and thus allows the opportunity to scaffold in-classroom learning through active learning strategies. In a sense, this model converts the real world into the classroom, because that is where the student will have the most engagement with the subject matter; meanwhile the classroom is where the student will engage with their classmates for a deeper exploration of what they have been learning outside the classroom. Continue reading

What is Participatory Learning or Active Learning?

The verbs in the names of these two typically interchangeable terms say a lot about them: this kind of learning is meant to engage students, to put them in the driver’s seat of their own education, to make learning active and participation-based, and to make education more equitable. Some of the core elements of participatory learning include community, collaboration, and social justice (Alfie Kohn). Participatory learning descends from genealogies in progressive education that go back to Montessori and Dewey, radical pedagogy (think Paulo Freire‘s dialogic methods and bell hooks‘ emphasis on the intellectual and spiritual growth of students), and a variety of contemporary, engaged pedagogies, including those inflected by social science (such as the work of Carol Dweck on fixed versus growth mindset). Continue reading

Resources on the Efficacy of Active Learning

A recent study reminds us of the importance of active learning. This study reveals that student learning suffered during the switch to remote teaching earlier this year, but that small group activities helped to reduce this loss. See “The Power of Peer Interaction” by Colleen Flaherty, published by Inside Higher Ed on November 3, 2020.

The research on the value of active learning (or the term we prefer: participatory learning) is irrefutable. In May 2014, several scholars from a variety of STEM disciplines published a meta-analysis of 225 separate studies of different ways of teaching and learning. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they argued that active learning improved student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics, from test scores to retention and applicability, or the ability to apply classroom learning to new situations. They write, “students in classes with traditional lecturing were 1.5 times more likely to fail than were students in classes with active learning.” A follow-up meta-study conducted in 2020, showed the same kind of results were even more evident if difference, equality, diversity, and inclusion were taken into account. Another showed equally significant improvements in learning and understanding for international students. One popular account of the PNAS study quipped that if comparative results had been this clear cut in a pharmaceutical study, traditional pedagogy would be taken off the market. Continue reading