College of Arts and Sciences launches education innovation web feature

Innovative approaches to pedagogy are changing the future of Cornell, and the College of Arts and Sciences has launched a web feature to spotlight new developments throughout the college. The site includes stories about teaching methods, education research, curriculum redesign and more.

“The College of Arts and Sciences’ commitment to active learning and education innovation is impressive, and its successes are important for the entire university,” said Julia Thom-Levy, vice provost for academic innovation and associate professor of physics.

The curriculum redesign currently underway in Arts and Sciences has a natural synergy with these pedagogy initiatives, notes Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences. “Our efforts on education innovation align perfectly with our broader curricular redesign. In both the redesign and our pedagogical approaches, we are moving the college forward based on the best education research and best practices known. This is a collegewide endeavor that draws on the creativity and experience of all our faculty.”

While research pointing the way to better pedagogical approaches fuel these innovations, the push toward creative classroom approaches has come from professors and departments deeply committed to their teaching mission, said Peter Lepage, director of education innovation and the Goldwin Smith Professor of Physics.

One reason the active learning approach to teaching continues to gain adherents is that it is simply more fun than the traditional mode, said Lepage. “If you talk to the people who have totally converted they can’t imagine going back, and the reason is because their classroom experience is utterly transformed. And it’s because the students are alive. You’re interacting with them – all of them, not just the three that come up after class. It’s incredibly energizing.”

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