By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director
In this post, we continue our Greatest Hits series, highlighting here the most visited OCW courses from the departments of Political Science and Global Studies and Languages.
As with other departments, introductory courses get the most visits.
(Photo courtesy of Daniel Bersak.)
- 17.03 Introduction to Political Thought taught by Sarah Song
“This course examines major texts in the history of political thought and the questions they raise about the design of the political and social order. It considers the ways in which thinkers have responded to the particular political problems of their day, and the ways in which they contribute to a broader conversation about human goods and needs, justice, democracy, and the proper relationship of the individual to the state.”
- 17.158 Political Economy of Western Europe taught by Professor Suzanne Berger
“This course examines the role of European states in postwar period of rapid economic growth and current crisis. Includes analysis of different state traditions (“etatist,” liberal, authoritarian); government’s role in decline of some economies and rise of others; why and where Keynesianism, indicative planning, and state enterprises were introduced; alternative conceptions of contemporary economic problems . . . and of policies to deal with them.”
- 17.881 Game Theory and Political Theory taught by Professor James Snyder
“This course aims to give students an entry-level understanding of the basic concepts of game theory, and how these concepts have been applied to the study of political phenomena. Because an important component of game theory in political science and political economy is the analysis of substantive political phenomena, we will cover illustrative examples each week in combination with methodological developments. The political and economic phenomena that we will examine include legislative rules, nuclear deterrence, electoral competition, and imperfect markets.”
- 17.20 Introduction to American Politics taught by Professor Devin Caughey
“This course provides a substantive overview of U.S. politics and an introduction to the discipline of political science. It surveys the institutional foundations of U.S. politics as well as the activities of political elites, organizations, and ordinary citizens. It also explores the application of general political science concepts and analytic frameworks to specific episodes and phenomena in U.S. politics.”
- 17.000J Political Philosophy: Global Justice taught by Professors Joshua Cohen, Thomas Scanlon, and Amartya Sen
“This course explores the foundations and content of norms of justice that apply beyond the borders of a single state. We examine issues of political justice, economic justice, and human rights. Topics include the case for skepticism about global justice; the idea of global democracy; intellectual property rights; the nature of distributive justice at the global level; pluralism and human rights; and rights to control borders.”
Global Studies and Languages
- 21G.701 Spanish I taught by Margueritas Ribas Groeger and Solivia Márquez
“This course deals with all basic language skills: aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. This class assumes no previous knowledge of Spanish . . . The central component of the text and workbook is a series of 26 half-hour video episodes. The videos allow students to learn authentic Spanish and experience its cultural diversity while following a good story full of surprises and human emotions. Students also listen to an audio-only program integrated with the text and workbook. In the classroom, students do a variety of activities and exercises, which include talking in Spanish about the video program, practicing pronunciation and grammar, and interacting in Spanish with classmates in pairs and small groups.”
- 21G.501 Japanese I taught by Masami Ikeda-Lamm and Yoshimi Nagaya
“The main objective of this course is to build up four basic skills in Japanese: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students will acquire the basic understanding of the Japanese language structures as well as learning kana and some kanji, the Japanese characters. It is important to keep in mind that you are expected to develop the ability to communicate in the Japanese language appropriately in the given social situations. Therefore, you will be given a lot of oral practices aiming at cultivating active command of Japanese.”
- 21G.223 Listening, Speaking, and Pronouncing taught by Isaiah WonHo Yoo
“This course is designed for high-intermediate ESL students who need to develop better listening comprehension and oral skills, which will primarily be achieved by detailed instructions on pronunciation. Our focus will be on (1) producing accurate and intelligible English, (2) becoming more comfortable listening to rapidly spoken English, and (3) learning common expressions, gambits, and idioms used in both formal and informal contexts.”
- 21G.101 Chinese I (Regular) taught by Dr. Haohsiang Liao
“This subject is the first semester of four that forms an introduction to modern standard Chinese, commonly called Mandarin, the language with the largest number of native speakers in the world . . . The course presupposes no prior background in the language. Course objectives are to master Mandarin pronunciation, including the recognition and writing of Pinyin romanization, basic reading and writing skills . . . and to develop the ability to participate in simple, practical conversations on everyday topics.” This course features video Instructor Insights in both English and Chinese in which Dr. Liao explains how he teaches.
- 21G.301 French I taught by Cathy Culot, Gilberte Furstenberg, Johann Sadock, Laura Ceia-Minjares, and Sabine Levet
“This is an introductory course that is conducted entirely in French. The goals for this semester are: to be able to understand, speak, write and read in the present, future and past tenses; to be able to write short compositions without the use of a dictionary; to become acquainted with French and Francophone customs, history and civilization on a simple scale; and to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for your own culture as well as others’.”
By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director
Sing! Play! Dance! Make a Scene!
Get ready for the fourth and final installment in our survey of the most visited courses in the Humanities, this episode featuring courses from the MIT department of Music and Theater Arts. We present courses from each of these disciplines, which are combined in one department at MIT.
As with our other lists of most popular OCW sites, introductory courses stand out. These courses are distinguished by fascinating reading and listening and by creative activities and projects!
21M.380 students run a recording session with the MIT Ohms acapella singing group. (Photo by MIT OpenCourseWare.)
- 21M.051 Fundamentals of Music taught by Pamela Wood
“This class introduces students to the rudiments of Western music through oral, aural, and written practice utilizing rhythm, melody, intervals, scales, chords, and musical notation. The approach is based upon the inclusive Kodály philosophy of music education. Individual skills are addressed through a variety of means, emphasizing singing and keyboard practice in the required piano labs.”
- 21M.011 Introduction to Western Music taught by Professor Ellen Harris
“This course gives a broad overview of Western music from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, with emphasis on late baroque, classical, romantic, and modernist styles (1700-1910). It is also meant to enhance students’ musical experience by developing listening skills and an understanding of diverse forms and genres. Major composers and their works will be placed in social and cultural contexts.”
- 21M.351 Music Composition taught by Professor Peter Child
“This course features directed composition of larger forms of original writing involving voices and/or instruments. It includes a weekly seminar in composition for the presentation and discussion of work in progress. Students are expected to produce at least one substantive work, performed in public, by the end of the term. Contemporary compositions and major works from 20th-century music literature are studied.”
- 21M.380 Music and Technology: Recording Techniques and Audio Production taught by Professor Christopher Ariza
“This course covers foundations, practices, and creative techniques in audio recording and music production, including microphone selection and placement, mixing, mastering, signal processing, automation, and digital audio workstations.”
- 21M.301 Harmony and Counterpoint I taught by Professor Brian Robison
“…[W]e will study the basic harmonic, melodic, and formal practices of western music, principally the classical music of central Europe during the eighteenth century. Topics will include diatonic harmony, simple counterpoint in two parts, and tones of figuration. The coursework will combine composition, listening, analysis, and work in sight-singing and keyboard musicianship.”
A student in 21M.715 The Craft of Costume Design models various costume elements. (Photo by Leslie Held; costuming by an MIT student. Used with permission.)
- 21M.732 Beginning Costume Design and Construction taught by Leslie Cocuzzo Held
“This is an intermediate workshop designed for students who have a basic understanding of the principles of theatrical design and who want a more intensive study of costume design and the psychology of clothing. Students develop designs that emerge through a process of character analysis, based on the script and directorial concept. Period research, design, and rendering skills are fostered through practical exercises. Instruction in basic costume construction, including drafting and draping, provide tools for students to produce final projects.”
- 21M.604 Playwriting I taught by Laura Harrington
“This class introduces the craft of writing for the theater. Through weekly assignments, in class writing exercises, and work on a sustained piece, students explore scene structure, action, events, voice, and dialogue. We examine produced playscripts and discuss student work. This class’s emphasis is on process, risk-taking, and finding one’s own voice and vision.”
- 21M.603 Principles of Design taught by Karen Perlow, Leslie Cocuzzo Held, Michael Katz, and William Fregosi
“This course deals with advanced design theories and textual analysis. Emphasis is placed on script analysis in general, as well as the investigation of design principles from a designer’s perspective. Students also refine technical skills in rendering and presentation, historical research, and analysis. Class sessions include interaction with student/faculty directors and other staff designers. The goal of this course is for students to approach text with a fresh vision and translate that vision into design for performance.”
- 21M.715 The Craft of Costume Design taught by Leslie Cocuzzo Held
“This class provides an overview of some of the techniques used in creating costume pieces that are crafted rather than sewn. We will use a variety of materials and techniques to create specific costume pieces while at the same time exploring alternative applications possible for each material/technique. Students should come to class prepared to be painted, dyed, gilded, dusted and dirtied.”
- 21M.675 Dance Theory and Composition taught by Thomas De Frantz
“This course introduces students to the art and formal ideologies of contemporary dance. We explore the aesthetic and technical underpinnings of contemporary dance composition. Basic compositional techniques are discussed and practiced, with an emphasis on principles such as weight, space, time, effort, and shape. Principles of musicality are considered and developed by each student. Working with each other as the raw material of the dance, students develop short compositions that reveal their understanding of basic techniques. Hopefully, students come to understand a range of compositional possibilities available to artists who work with the medium of the human body.”
See all Music and Theater Arts courses on OCW >
By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director
Now for the third installment in our survey of the most visited courses in the Humanities, this one featuring courses from the MIT department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
The list below has courses from both disciplines housed in this department. As with our other lists of most popular OCW sites, introductory courses predominate.
These course sites are distinguished by fascinating reading and often helpful notes. So be sure to check out their varying arrays of resources.
A bilingual road sign with directions in both English and Welsh. (Image courtesy of Stefan Baguette.)
- 24.900 Introduction to Linguistics taught by Professor David Pesetsky
“This course studies what is language and what does knowledge of a language consist of. It asks how do children learn languages and is language unique to humans; why are there many languages; how do languages change; is any language or dialect superior to another; and how are speech and writing related.”
- 24.901 Language and Its Structure I: Phonology taught by Professor Michael Kenstowicz
“24.901 is designed to give you a preliminary understanding of how the sound systems of different languages are structured, how and why they may differ from each other. The course also aims to provide you with analytical tools in phonology, enough to allow you to sketch the analysis of an entire phonological system by the end of the term. On a non-linguistic level, the course aims to teach you by example the virtues of formulating precise and explicit descriptive statements; and to develop your skills in making and evaluating arguments.”
- 24.906J Linguistic Studies of Bilingualism taught by Suzanne Flynn
“This course studies the development of bilingualism in human history (from Australopithecus to present day). It focuses on linguistic aspects of bilingualism; models of bilingualism and language acquisition; competence versus performance; effects of bilingualism on other domains of human cognition; brain imaging studies; early versus late bilingualism; opportunities to observe and conduct original research; and implications for educational policies among others. The course is taught in English.”
- 24.902 Language and Its Structure II: Syntax (Fall 2003) taught by Professor David Pesetsky
“This course will acquaint you with some of the important results and ideas of the last half – century of research in syntax. We will explore a large number of issues and a large amount of data so that you can learn something of what this field is all about . . . At the same time, you will learn the mechanics of one particular approach (sometimes called Principles and Parameters syntax). Most of all, the course tries to show why the study of syntax is exciting, and why its results are important to researchers in other language sciences.”
- 24.902 Language and Its Structure II: Syntax (Fall 2015) taught by Professor Sabine Iatridou
“This course covers some of the basic ideas in the subfield syntax, within the framework often referred to as “Generative Grammar” . . . We will explore the hierarchical organization of language and look at a number of syntactic phenomena that are common in completely unrelated languages and try to understand them. We will also look at differences among languages and try to understand what some possible ways are in which languages can differ.”
- 24.903 Language and Its Structure III: Semantics and Pragmatics taught by Professor Kai von Fintel
“This course gives an introduction to the science of linguistic meaning. There are two branches to this discipline: semantics, the study of conventional, “compositional meaning”, and pragmatics, the study of interactional meaning. There are other contributaries: philosophy, logic, syntax, and psychology. We will try to give you an understanding of the concepts of semantics and pragmatics and of some of the technical tools that we use.”
The Thinker shows a philosopher at work. (Image by asmythie on Flickr.)
- 24.00 Problems in Philosophy taught by Professor Richard Holton
“The course should really be called “God, Knowledge, Consciousness, Freedom, Survival, and Doing the Right Thing,” because that is what we’re going to be talking about. One goal is to give you a sense of what famous philosophers have said about these topics . . . A second goal is to get you thinking, and writing, and arguing, in a philosophical way yourself.”
- 24.200 Ancient Philosophy taught by Professor Sally Haslanger
“This course will acquaint the student with some of the ancient Greek contributions to the Western philosophical and scientific tradition. We will examine a broad range of central philosophical themes concerning: nature, law, justice, knowledge, virtue, happiness, and death. There will be a strong emphasis on analyses of arguments found in the texts.”
- 24.241 Logic I taught by Ephraim Glick
“In this course we will cover central aspects of modern formal logic, beginning with an explanation of what constitutes good reasoning. Topics will include validity and soundness of arguments, formal derivations, truth-functions, translations to and from a formal language, and truth-tables.”
- 24.01 Classics in Western Philosophy taught by Rae Langton
“This course will introduce you to the Western philosophical tradition, through the study of major figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. You will get to grips with questions that have been significant to philosophy from its beginnings: questions about the nature of the mind or soul, the existence of God, the foundations of knowledge, ethics and the good life.”
- 24.235J Philosophy of Law taught by Professor Julia Markovits
“This course examines fundamental issues in the philosophy of law, including the nature and content of law, its relation to morality, theories of legal interpretation, and the obligation to obey the law, as well as philosophical issues and problems associated with punishment and responsibility, liberty, and legal ethics.”
See all Linguistics and Philosophy courses on OCW >
See all posts in this Greatest Hits of the Humanities series:
The 2018 MacVicar Faculty fellows are (clockwise from top left): Shankar Raman, David Autor, Merritt Roe Smith, and Christopher Capozzola.
(Courtesy of MIT Registrar’s Office.)
By Sarah Hansen, OCW Educator Project Manager
For the past 26 years, the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program has honored several MIT professors each year who have made outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching, educational innovation, and mentoring.
This year’s awardees are Professors David Autor (economics), Christopher Capozzola (history), Shankar Raman (literature), and Merritt Roe Smith (history).
OCW is honored to share courses from all of this year’s Fellows.
14.03 Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy
14.661 Labor Economics I
14.11 Putting Social Sciences to the Test: Field Experiments in Economics
14.662 Labor Economics II
21M.630 Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies
21H.223 War & American Society
21H.221 The Places of Migration in United States History
21H.105 American Classics
21H.225J Gender and the Law in U.S. History
21H.224 Law and Society in US History
21L.451 Introduction to Literary Theory
21L.704 Studies in Poetry: From the Sonneteers to the Metaphysicals
21L.703 English Renaissance Drama: Theatre and Society in the Age of Shakespeare
21L.017 The Art of the Probable: Literature and Probability
Merritt Roe Smith
STS.462 Social and Political Implications of Technology
21H.116J The Civil War and Reconstruction
STS.050 The History of MIT
STS.001 Technology in American History
STS.025J Making the Modern World: The Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective
STS.427 The Civil War and the Emergence of Modern America, 1861-1890
Through the OCW Educator initiative, we have also collected Instructor Insights from Professor David Autor about how he teaches 14.03 Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy. His roundabout path to teaching labor economics is both fascinating and encouraging to those of us on a winding path toward finding our passions!
Interested in more Instructor Insights from past MacVicar Fellows? Visit our OCW Educator portal to search for Insights from MIT Teaching Award Recipients. Delve into the minds of Lorna Gibson, Catherine Drennan, Arthur Bahr, Dennis Freeman, and many other MIT professors advancing teaching and learning in their fields.
By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director
Herewith, Part II of our list of the most visited OCW course sites in the Humanities, this part featuring Literature and Writing courses. [See Part I here.] Naturally, most writing courses entail a healthy amount of reading, so there is some natural overlap between these two academic ventures, and instructors often sail their boats on both ponds.
Literature and writing are fed and replenished by many related disciplines. So it’s worth noting how many of these courses also venture far upstream into other territories, such as film, history, biology, cooking, photography, and mobile technology.
While assignments distinguish all academic courses, in literature and writing courses they form the heart of the experience, so be sure to check those out.
Portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell. (Image courtesy of wikipedia.org.)
- 21L.011 The Film Experience taught by Professor David Thorburn
“Through comparative reading of films from different eras and countries, students develop the skills to turn their in-depth analyses into interpretations and explore theoretical issues related to spectatorship.”
- 21L.448J Darwin and Design taught by Professor James Paradis
“This course covers social development, social behavior, social cognition and social neuroscience, in both human and non-human social animals. Topics include altruism, empathy, communication, theory of mind, aggression, power, groups, mating, and morality. Methods include evolutionary biology, neuroscience, cognitive science, social psychology and anthropology.”
- 21L.707 Reading Cookbooks: from The Forme of Cury to The Smitten Kitchen taught by Ina Lipkowitz
“ . . . students will visit the past through cookbooks to learn about what foodstuffs and technologies were available and when, and how religious and nutritional concerns dictated what was eaten and how it was cooked. Students will also learn about the gender dynamics of culinary writing and performances and the roles people played in writing and cooking recipes.”
- 21L.003 Introduction to Fiction taught by Wyn Kelley
“This course investigates the uses and boundaries of fiction in a range of novels and narrative styles–traditional and innovative, western and nonwestern–and raises questions about the pleasures and meanings of verbal texts in different cultures, times, and forms.”
- 21L.000J Writing about Literature taught by Wyn Kelley
“Through the ways they engage with their own texts and those of other artists, sampling, remixing, and rethinking texts and genres, writers reflect on and inspire questions about the creative process. We will examine Mary Shelley’s reshaping of Milton’s Paradise Lost, German fairy tales, tales of scientific discovery, and her husband’s poems to make Frankenstein (1818, 1831); Melville’s redesign of a travel narrative into a Gothic novella in Benito Cereno (1856); and Alison Bechdel’s rewriting of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) in her graphic novel Fun Home (2006).”
See all Literature courses on OCW >
Planning diagram for a short story. (Image courtesy of Simon Scott on Flickr.)
- 21W.755 Reading and Writing Short Stories taught by Shariann Lewitt
“Students will write stories and short descriptive sketches. Students will read great short stories and participate in class discussions of students’ writing and the assigned stories in their historical and social contexts.”
- 21W.730-2 The Creative Spark taught by Karen Boiko
“Under what conditions does [creativity] flourish—what ignites the creative spark? Attempting to answer these questions, this class explores ways creativity has been understood in Western culture: what we prize and fear about creativity and its wellsprings; how writers, artists, scientists and inventors have described their own creative processes; how psychologists and philosophers have theorized it; ways in which creativity has been represented in Western culture.”
- 21W.735 Writing and Reading the Essay taught by Dr. Rebecca Blevins Faery
“This is a course focused on the literary genre of the essay, that wide-ranging, elastic, and currently very popular form that attracts not only nonfiction writers but also fiction writers, poets, scientists, physicians, and others to write in the form, and readers of every stripe to read it.”
- 21W.789 Communicating with Mobile Technology taught by Dr. Edward C. Barrett and Frank Bentley
“Students work in small collaborative design teams to propose, build, and document a semester-long project focused on mobile applications for cell phones. Additional assignments include creating several small mobile applications such as context-aware mobile media capture and games. Students document their work through a series of written and oral proposals, progress reports, and final reports.”
See all Writing courses on OCW >
(MIT recently combined its Writing program with Comparative Media Studies into the CMS/W department, but has kept the 21W numbering for writing courses.)
Général François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, a leader in the Haitian Revolution who helped to overthrow the institution of slavery and turn Haiti into an independent state. Learn more in 21H.001 How to Stage a Revolution (This image is public domain. Source: NYPL Digital Gallery.)
By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director
Most OCW fans are familiar with our list of most visited courses. We update this list every month, but the courses on it typically don’t change very much. Given MIT’s reputation as a premiere engineering institution, it should come as no surprise that the list is dominated by Mathematics and Computer Science courses. Introductory courses are especially well-represented.
This led us to wonder: What are the most visited OCW courses in MIT departments not included in this list? In a series of posts, we’ll present the top five most visited courses in Humanities departments, starting here with Anthropology and History.
Children show off their costumes during a Halloween Parade in Tokyo. In 21A.01 How Culture Works, students complete an ethnographic study on Halloween. (Image courtesy of Buz Carter on flickr. License CC BY-NC-SA.)
- 21A.00 Introduction to Anthropology taught by Professor Graham Jones
“…anthropology…seeks to understand how culture both shapes societies…and affects the way institutions work…This course will provide a framework for analyzing diverse facets of human experience such as gender, ethnicity, language, politics, economics, and art.”
- 21A.211 Magic, Witchcraft, and the Spirit World taught by Professor James Howe
“This class is concerned with the boundaries between everyday life and another order of reality, the world of spirits, powers, and mystical dangers, and with what happens when those barriers ease or break apart.”
- 21A.265 Food and Culture taught by Professor Heather Paxon
“…in eating, humans incorporate into our very bodies the products of nature transformed into culture. This course explores connections between what we eat and who we are through cross-cultural study of how personal identities and social groups are formed via food production, preparation, and consumption.”
- 21A.01 How Culture Works taught by Professor Manduhai Buyandelger
“This course explores the diverse meanings, uses, and abuses of the concept of culture using historical materials and contemporary examples from around the globe. The word ‘culture’ is used liberally to indicate practices, symbols and representations ranging from a piece of clothing to elusive claims concerning the environment.”
- 21A.219 Law and Society taught by Professor Susan S. Silbey
“This course examines the central features of law as a social institution and as a feature of popular culture. We will explore the nature of law as a set of social systems, central actors in the systems, legal reasoning, and the relationship of the legal form and reasoning to social change…We will explore the range of experiences of law for its ministers (lawyers, judges, law enforcement agents and administrators) as well as for its supplicants (citizens, plaintiffs, defendants).”
See all Anthropology courses on OCW >
- 21H.101 American History to 1865 taught by Professor Pauline Maier
“This course…examines the colonial heritages of Spanish and British America; the American Revolution and its impact; the establishment and growth of the new nation; and the Civil War, its background, character, and impact.”
- 21H.001 How to Stage a Revolution taught by Professors Malick Ghachem, Jeffrey S. Ravel, and Craig Wilder
“This course explores fundamental questions about the causes and nature of revolutions by looking at how people overthrow their rulers and establish new governments…Examines how revolutionaries have attempted to establish their ideals and realize their goals. Asks whether radical upheavals require bloodshed, violence, or even terror.”
- 21H.301 The Ancient World: Greece taught by Professor William Broadhead
“This course elaborates the history of Ancient Greece from the Bronze Age to the death of Alexander…includes discussions on Homer, heroism, and the Greek identity; the hoplite revolution and the rise of the city-state; Herodotus, Persia, and the (re)birth of history; Empire, Thucydidean rationalism, and the Peloponnesian War; Platonic constructs; Aristotle, Macedonia, and Hellenism. Emphasis is on use of primary sources in translation.”
- 21H.302 The Ancient World: Rome taught by Professor William Broadhead
“This course elaborates the history of Rome from its humble beginnings to the fifth century A.D. The first half of the course covers Kingship to Republican form; the conquest of Italy; Roman expansion: Pyrrhus, Punic Wars and provinces; classes, courts, and the Roman revolution; Augustus and the formation of empire. The second half of the course covers Virgil to the Vandals; major social, economic, political and religious trends at Rome and in the provinces. Emphasis is placed on the use of primary sources in translation.”
- 21H.931 Seminar in Historical Methods taught by Professor Anne McCants
“We examine how historians conceive of their object of study, how they use primary sources as a basis for their accounts, how they structure the narrative and analytic discussion of their topic, and what are the advantages and drawbacks of their various approaches.”
See all History courses on OCW >
By Sarah Hansen, OCW Educator Project Manager
Assessing students’ learning is one of the most important things we do as educators. It’s also one of the most complicated. There’s a lot to consider:
- When will assessment happen? (Along the way? At the end of the course?)
- How will we collect useful information about student learning? (Through writing samples? Surveys? Online reading questions? Student self-assessments? Performance assessments? Something else?)
- How will we assess work that doesn’t have right and wrong answers, like creative writing or digital media projects?
- How will we assess work students complete in teams? (It’s hard enough to assess students individually! But we know collaboration is an essential skill—so how do we measure it in a way that’s fair to individuals?)
- How will we effectively communicate feedback to students (Via rubrics? Written comments? Oral exams that function as educative conversations?)
- How will we use assessment to improve our own teaching? (When should curricular iteration occur?)
For every group of students, there’s a different combination of productive approaches to assessment that instructors need to configure. It’s a shape-shifting puzzle that can be exciting, enervating, and downright addictive. If you’re an educator and you’re intrigued by “the assessment challenge,” you’re not alone. MIT instructors are thinking hard about measuring student learning, providing feedback, and improving their teaching based on what they learn through assessments. In the following short videos, six MIT instructors candidly share the assessment strategies they’ve been trying in their own classrooms:
- In 16.842 Fundamentals of Systems Engineering, students in a Small Private Online Course (SPOC) worked in teams to participate in an international imitation satellite design competition. Aero/Astro Professor Olivier de Weck shares how he assessed work students completed as teams, how he conducted online written and oral exams, and how made use of students’ personal reflective memos to understand what they learned in the course.
- Elizabeth Choe gets into the nitty gritty of how she approached assessment and feedback in the creative context of 20.219 Becoming the Next Bill Nye, a course in which students conceptualized and produced educational videos (no multiple choice tests here!).
- Takako Aikawa discusses how she used a daily grading system and interview tests to provide students with feedback about their language learning in 21G.503 Japanese III. (You can view this video in Japanese, too.)
- In CMS.611 Creating Video Games, students worked in teams to develop games for a real client: The Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Center. Sara Verrilli shares how instructors assessed these projects, emphasizing that students’ processes and project management skills were more important than the final products.
- Professor Joe Schindall opens up about grading in ESD.051J Engineering Innovation and Design, noting that students’ “passion of engagement” and their willingness to try new things were factors the instructors considered when assessing student learning in this Engineering Systems Division course.
- Professor Catherine Drennan shares how she uses clicker competitions to engage students and formatively assess learning in 5.111SC Principles of Chemical Science. (Spoiler Alert: Things get heated.)
Want more MIT instructor insights about assessment? Head over to our OCW Educator portal and click “Assessment.” Then filter your results by topic, such as feedback, formative assessment, performance assessment, student self-assessment, and more.
If you find a strategy on our site that helps you solve (or inspires you to think differently about) your assessment puzzle, we want to hear from you! We’ll share some of the trickiest puzzles with the most creative solutions on our Facebook page. Go!