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Peter Dorfman

Peter Dorfman is a freelance writer, blogger, and consultant based in Bloomington, Indiana. He writes about culture, education and technology. Only three degrees from Kevin Bacon, he once sawed a piano in half.

Restructure Upper-Level Courses to Produce A-Level Research Assistants

To prepare 300-level science students for real-world research, Dr. George Mbata rewrote the syllabus. Here are some things he learned along the way.

Turn Scientifically Illiterate Students into Idea-Generating Scientists

Dr. Catherine McCusker has perfected a way to help undergraduate biology students read, decipher, digest, and even question jargon-heavy journal articles.

Help Math Students Visualize Probability Distributions with Excel

Randomness can be difficult to explain with words alone, so Dr. Mehdi Razzaghi uses numbers, spreadsheets, and histograms to help students understand.

To Build Excitement for Research, Add an Expert Interview

To help students decipher scientific literature, Jennifer Punt, VMD, PhD, takes them beyond annotation with a lesson that culminates in an expert interview.

Infuse Biology Class with Gratitude, Humanity, and Civil Discourse

To help students grasp abstract concepts—and how they relate to real people—biology professor Dr. Kimberly Lyle-Ippolito taps into the power of story.

Erase Knowledge Gaps in Online Classes by Adding Peer Support

Online courses make it easy to work solo, but Dr. Susan Wright found that solo study inhibits success in accounting, so she added teams and TAs.

Put the “Human” in “Human Resources” with a Role-Playing Card Game

When Leonor Cabrera, MBA, noticed that students were missing the emotional side of HR, she put a spin on role-playing scenarios to help situations feel real.

Improve Learning by Co-Teaching to Help Students Feel Invested

When business students seemed content to sit back in their seats, Dr. Michael London reconfigured the student-teacher dynamic to one of apprentice-mentor.

Get Chem Students Curious with the Case of the Sleepless Student

Reinforce the utility of scientific investigation through realistic scenarios that require students to team up and think like experts.

Build Student Lab Skills by Taking a Toxic Field Trip

 Set up lab students for real-world success with field work that addresses a real-world question: How do bacteria fight antibiotics?

Teach Practical Skills with a Mysterious Group Project

Students in this marketing course wear many hats—entrepreneur, marketer, and client. Changing roles and other surprises keep them on their toes.

Improve Math Skills by Thinking Like a Camp Counselor

To overcome a deeply held belief among students that math skills were out of reach, this instructor first got a little goofy.

Help Students Decode Journal Articles with Academic Reading Tips

Journal articles can intimidate first-year college and university students used to reading textbooks in classes. These strategies help them crack the code.

Provide a Framework for Business Ethics with Six Schools of Thought

Great minds do not always think alike: That’s why this professor introduces students to as many philosophies as possible.

Demonstrate Bias—Then Growth—with a Word Cloud

Using tools for self-reflection, this border-studies expert helps Arizona students examine their beliefs about the southern border of the U.S.

Conquer Math Phobia by Helping Students Analyze a “Burning Question”

Help even the most fearful of students understand and apply abstract concepts of mathematics with confidence. Here is one professor's approach.

Make Practice Testing Fun with a “King of the Hill” Game

When his practice quizzes were a flop, this psychologist created a midterm challenge game that can earn students an A—and bragging rights.

Improve Students’ Collaborative Skills with the TREO Model

Most students know how it feels to be on a terrible team. After this class, they will understand why—and what they can do about it. 

Tackle Complex Subjects with the Think-Pair-Share Model

When this professor saw students struggling with complex concepts, he adapted a tried-and-true teaching model to help them work through problems together.

Teach Empathy with Eye-Opening Service Projects

When it comes to social justice, location matters. This social geography course explains how space affects equality—and how students can balance the scales.

Wake up MBA Students with an Absurd Honor Code Contract

In this professor's course, MBA students get a shocking glimpse into the differences between online and face-to-face negotiations.

Awaken Cultural Awareness with a Quirky Card Game

When international business students played a game with new rules and no speaking, they realized why cultural and language barriers impact workplace deals.

Bring Reality to the Lab to Make Scientists Marketable

In this molecular genetics course, labs closely mimic the imperfect nature of the real world to make students more flexible, resilient, and valuable.

Make Big Classes Feel Small with Group Problem-Solving

When his class doubled in size, this professor created a small-lecture feel—by finding ways to engage all 75 students at once.

Help Students Get Career Ready with a Social Media Makeover

A communications and journalism professor helps students know how to upgrade their online personas and show their best professional self (not selfie).

Address College Stress with Student Self-Care Journals

When a professor is a licensed therapist, students sometimes seek help in more than academics. Here, a tool to preserve boundaries and help students adapt.

Address Diversity Issues with a Social Location Essay

To help would-be therapists understand the diverse backgrounds and needs of their future clients, this professor has students take a closer look inward.

Turn Bystanders into Upstanders with Social Justice Teamwork

How a semester of civic engagement helps passive students discover social justice and their power to effect positive change in our world.

Enhance Performance Artistry with a YouTube Dance Exercise

How one professor helps students of modern dance make the leap from basic technique to true artistry.

Bring Economic Concepts to Life with Sitcoms

Facing an audience of nearly 300 freshmen, this Penn State professor offers microeconomics students a look at complex theory by using popular TV shows.

Engage Nonmajors with an ePortfolio

Find out how this University of Virginia lecturer helps beginning Spanish students build vocabulary and confidence—even if they're not majors.

Cell Phones in the College Classroom: How to Cope

Whatever your position, the truth is that students are more likely to remember their phone than their homework. Here are some ways other educators deal.

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