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Professors share teaching methods at symposium

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Alison Crowe, of the biology department, and Brian Buchwitz discuss ideas at the Teaching and Learning Symposium in the HUB Ballroom yesterday.

Ever wonder what your professors are doing to improve their teaching methods?

To shed some light on the question of how to effectively teach students, UW professors and educators gathered at the HUB Ballroom yesterday for the fourth annual Teaching and Learning Symposium.

Keynote speaker for the event was Tom Hinckley, a professor for the College of Forest Resources and co-author of the study “Supporting Classroom Discussion with Technology: A Case Study in Environmental Science.”

Hinckley addressed new interactive and technological teaching methods that he had implemented in his classroom and the Yakama Nation field trip, which is part of a course that shows students the cultural aspects of environmental and forestry issues.

Taking the students to the reservation allows them to learn about the cultural issues from the people involved in them.

“That’s not something I can teach,” Hinckley said.

He also talked about using high-tech resources to improve the amount of interactivity in classrooms and highlighted the usage of a program called Classroom Presenter, which he called “a more interactive form of PowerPoint.”

The program allows students to interact with course material by drawing on a slide and submitting it back to the instructor, who can then use their responses as part of the lecture.

“It gives the instructor greater organization and clarity,” Hinckley said.

The event also featured a poster display representing about 90 faculty members from about 50 departments.

“This is a chance for people to meet and talk to each other about their teaching methods and build bridges,” said Wayne Jacobson, assistant dean and interim director for the Center for Instructional Development & Research (CIDR), a sponsor for the event.

The posters featured included displays from departments such as engineering, psychology, biology and business.

“We’re trying to get students to see the big picture and know the skill-set they graduate with when they get a psychology major,” said Beth Kerr, assistant professor and presenter from the Department of Psychology.

Other programs with displays included Do-It, which caters to students with disabilities, Catalyst Learning and Scholarly Technologies and the Faculty Council on Educational Technology.

“I encourage the students to try all the different methods of learning and give the instructor helpful feedback, because a lot of this process is based on the feedback from students,” Hinckley said.

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