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Eastern Faculty Implement Innovative Teaching Strategies

Published on April 18, 2016

Eastern Faculty Implement Innovative Teaching Strategies

The 21st century demands modern teaching methods, and Eastern faculty are taking up the challenge. Whether its leveraging the latest technology or devising creative lessons, their approaches form the basis of the engaged learning experiences that characterize Eastern’s liberal arts education.

Martin Mendoza-Botelho, assistant professor of political science, plays a game with his students called “Bring your Dictator to School Day.” Students are engaged in an entertaining manner to learn about other forms of government.  “We live in the most enduring democracy in the world and students are not entirely familiar with other governments, where dictators are very common,” said Mendoza-Botelho.

“Students are divided into groups and assigned a ‘favorite’ dictator,” he continued. “They conduct research on basic aspects and bring it to class. We then give scores to each dictator.” Mendoza-Botelho teaches global politics and Latin American politics and encourages his students to learn about more global issues. “By discussing these kinds of topics in a contained and scholarly environment, students are able to express their own views on critical issues such as human rights and their role as citizens,” said Mendoza-Botelho.

Mark Fabrizi, assistant professor of education, engages his students in role playing called “stimulations.” Students are split into teams in which they create fictional school profiles and are then assigned a role of a community member (e.g. faculty, administrator, parent or teacher). During class, students are faced with challenging problems for which they discuss solutions. “This is a way for students to understand the issues and challenges that accompany working in a school setting. My students obtain a better intellectual understanding of the issues and gain appreciation for the struggle that educators endure from our hands-on investigations,” said Fabrizi.

Jenna Scisco, assistant professor of psychology, engages her students via social media. “While in London for our global field course, students wrote blog posts and conversed with other students. For my upcoming trip to Dublin, Ireland, students will use social media to share pictures and brief trip summaries with other individuals,” said Scisco. “The positive of social media is that it can be shared with other people in the community; thus, learning can extend beyond the classroom.”

Faculty also use community projects to engage students. Terry Lennox, associate professor of art, had her students create promotional materials for the Windham Hospital fundraising gala event this past November. The students worked with tight deadlines that shifted as the event came closer. “I’m a real advocate for community-based projects,” said Lennox. “I find that when the stakes are high with real-life implications, students step up to the plate and learning is accelerated.”

In his Emerging Technologies and Business Applications course, Alex Citurs, assistant professor of business information systems, students use a virtual reality technology called the “Oculus Rift” to find ways to reduce stress and promote sleep. Citurs also brings guest speakers to his classroom and takes students to business sites off campus; including Cigna and Watson. “I enjoy having first-hand experiences, field trips and guest speakers in my course because the field is always changing and at a rapid rate,” said Citurs.

Written by Ed Osborn

Categories: Academics