The new Center for Teaching and Learning will serve as a meeting space and resource hub in which undergraduates and graduate students can collaborate.
The CTL, which opened Jan. 11, aims to serve undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral fellows and faculty, but not necessarily in separate capacities, according to faculty and students interviewed. The center’s new home includes a technology learning studio, one-on-one tutoring rooms and several flexible classrooms or meeting spaces which feature modular movable furniture and glass walls that can be written on.
Though its aesthetic and technology are unique, the CTL is just one piece of a broader goal: Similar to the Schwarzman Center, the CTL aims to bring together graduate and undergraduate students.
Pamela Schirmeister, the dean of strategic initiatives at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, called the new space “open and collaborative.” She noted that it would be much more effective for a teaching fellow to explain an assignment problem to students in one of the CTL’s small classrooms as compared to at a desk in an office.
“It’s a very collaborative space, and I think it encourages creativity on all levels,” Schirmeister said. “Even as small a thing as having those rooms have the glass white boards means that people can write their ideas that other people can see, and that sparks thinking on their part.”
According to Kaury Kucera, the CTL’s interim director for graduate and postdoctoral teaching development, lecture recording in the studio spaces will encourage undergrads and graduate students to reflect on the teaching performance together. She added that the classrooms provide undergrads and instructors of all levels a better chance to learn from each other, in a setting unbounded by fixed desks and podiums.
The CTL oversees different programs that benefit both undergraduates and graduate students. The McDougal Graduate Teaching Fellows Program, for instance, gives approximately 20 Ph.D. candidates the opportunity to lead teaching workshops for other graduate students — namely, teaching fellows who interact with undergraduates on a regular basis. Another program, the Associates in Teaching Program, pairs a graduate student with a faculty member so the pair can create or revise a syllabus for an undergraduate course before co-teaching it.
Ian Althouse GRD ’17, one of the 22 current McDougal Teaching Fellows, told the News that he has already seen graduate students hold office hours and tutoring sessions with undergrads in the new center. He added that the space will improve the visibility of the work graduate students are doing to support undergraduates.
Andrew Cohen GRD ’18, a CTL associate in teaching, said the CTL assisted him in getting started on writing the syllabus for the sociology class which he co-teaches with professor of sociology Frederick Wherry, entitled “Advertising, Consumption and Society.”
“It’s really wonderful to introduce concepts and ideas to [undergraduate students] and see how they can really pick them up and apply them to new things in ways that not only am I continually impressed by, but it helps me get a better understanding of my own material,” Cohen said.
Kucera added that she and her colleagues are working on putting up signs in the CTL to indicate that the center is not a quiet space, but one where people are encouraged to share ideas. This sets the center apart from other library and study spaces, Kucera said.
The CTL takes up approximately 24,000 square feet on the first floor of Sterling Memorial Library.