October 18, 2017

Innovators: 10 Classroom Trailblazers

M eet our 10 teaching innovators. This is not a "Top 10" list, but a list of devoted professors who might spark your interest in taking risks and trying new things in class. This is the first year The Chronicle has featured such a list, and we’ve learned a lot. We saw so many examples of innovation in campus classrooms, it was hard to narrow them down. We weren’t necessarily looking for candidates who teach cool subject matter or use cutting-edge technologies, but for those who are in it for the long haul, who constantly revise their teaching to find what works, who deeply want to connect with their students.

As part of the selection process, we sought nominations from our readers via social media, from college teaching advocates, and from higher-education leaders. We hope you’ll find our teaching innovators as inspiring as we did.

Copies of the full report are available for purchase here.

The inspiration for his popular, interactive courses stems from his frustration with the traditional lecture format.

His courses introduce engineering students to adults with disabilities, and together they make films about the adults’ lives.

By using their imaginations, says the University of Rochester historian, students absorb history far better than from a textbook.

She puts the focus on online material that allows students to progress at their own pace but doesn’t let them get ahead of themselves.

The religious-studies scholar at the University of Pennsylvania oversees a course that requires students to live like monks.

She requires students to identify their course goals for the semester, the grade they expect to earn, and their plan for achieving both.

At North Carolina Central University, he uses cellphones and Snapchat to prove that research isn’t too complex for anyone.

By recording on video her initial reaction to students’ assignments, this professor lets them see what an intellectual process looks like.

The professor emphasizes that intellectual growth is based “on error recovery, not mistake avoidance.”

The professor at Columbia College, in South Carolina, tells his students that “we’re here to build bridges in your brain.”

We need to teach creativity, collaboration, and adaptability.

Ideas for improving academic culture abound, but too many die on the vine. Universities can change that.

The buggy unfamiliarity of the new technology helped students see older media with fresh eyes.

Developmental instructors need to make room for students’ feelings.