Author Archives: Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching

About Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching

This is the official blog for the Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching at Northwestern University.

Program evaluation for program improvement

Evaluating an educational program can mean anything from distributing a “smile sheet” (“How much did you like our program?”) to launching a multi-year, mixed-methods study on the effectiveness of your intervention. The former won’t tell you much of value, and … Continue reading

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How can we keep students engaged in science?

Recently, we struck up a conversation with a Northwestern undergraduate.  This young woman had been a top student in high school and had excelled in science. After a quarter of college science courses, though, she was discouraged.  She felt lost … Continue reading

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It’s in the syllabus…isn’t it? How a syllabus quiz can help students learn

This comic perfectly sums up the frustration that instructors often encounter in regards to answering routine questions from students. Long ago, some brilliant instructor probably came up with an ingenious method for dealing with the questions that he kept getting … Continue reading

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An interview with Owen Youngman–MOOC pioneer

In Fall 2013, Northwestern University launched its first three MOOCs–the Massive Open Online Courses that have been reshaping long-standing ideas about what it means to learn and teach in higher education. The very first MOOC at Northwestern was taught by … Continue reading

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Down with the college essay?

Last month in Slate, Rebecca Schuman made a modest proposal: let’s stop assigning essays in required humanities courses. Schuman, an education journalist and a professor of German, believes that students hate writing papers as much as professors hate grading them. … Continue reading

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Designing a course with your learners in mind

I frequently sit down with faculty who are in varying stages of panic concerning their syllabus for an upcoming course.  Sometimes it is a brand new course, or  one inherited from a colleague.  Often,  they have already taught the course … Continue reading

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Peer Learning: Getting students to work together meaningfully

We may all have memories of group projects gone bad … you’re the only one who does any work, one person freeloads, the group can’t agree on a direction, and so forth. Our students have these memories, too, and as … Continue reading

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Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we at Searle would like to extend our thanks to all the wonderful teachers at Northwestern. We appreciate your hard work and dedication to learning and teaching. And we also thank our students–we think … Continue reading

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Helping all students learn in a diverse classroom

We’ve probably never had an instructor say,  “I feel totally comfortable teaching in a diverse classroom.”  Teachers can feel worried about saying something that could be construed as biased, about underrepresented students not feeling comfortable speaking, about inadvertently doing something … Continue reading

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What does it mean to teach?

There’s an age-old question that people will sometimes debate:  “If a tree falls in the forest, but no one is around to hear it fall, did the tree make a sound?” A similar question could be posed about teaching:  “If … Continue reading

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