Activity Database

Thalidomide: The pros and cons

This case study, contributed by the Cornell Center for Teaching Excellence, is intended to show that two enantiomers can have different effects on the body, and how the same drug can be used to treat different diseases or symptoms.  It is also intended to help students begin to understand the process of FDA approval for drugs.  This problem could be used in an organic chemistry class or in a class for non-science majors.

The Beauty Contest

John Maynard Keynes classic "Beauty Contest" had people choose from a set of faces which they thought would be considered the six most beautiful. Winners were chosen from those who chose the most popular face. This easy task replicates the experiment with a simple numbers game.

The Problem of Scale in Evolution

Created by Jillian Banks, Jeremy Brown, Cindy Gordon, Chris Gregg, Travis Marsico, Chris Osovitz, and Rebecca Symula, this activity focuses on the importance of temporal scale and specifically seeks to resolve the common student misconception that evolutionary change is only observable on a single timescale.  It utilizes index cards in an interactive jigsaw.

Theme and Variations: Understanding Musical Style

This activity took place as part of an ongoing study of the various conventional forms in Classical music (sonata, concerto, etc.), and also contributed to a larger, semester-long conversation about the ways in which we deal with the nebulous concept of "style" in music. Coming into the class itself, students possessed a basic knowledge of musical rudiments such as melody and harmony. For this particular activity, students had already been introduced to the idea of a "Theme and Variations" form, and had listened to several examples.

Thesis Statement Peer Review

How do you craft a good thesis statement? In this activity, students work together to refine their ideas and put together possible evidence for different topics. The purpose is to teach students how to connect their thesis statement with the rest of their paper, and to revise the two in tandem (start with a draft thesis, bring some evidence together, revise the thesis to better reflect the evidence, revise the evidence to better fit the thesis, etc.)

Thought Essays

In his Freshman Seminar, Professor John Dowling assigned both basic textbook readings and supplementary readings.  Since students were to lead the discussion of the supplementary readings, John ensured that they would have something to say by assigning weekly 1 page "thought essays" that required students to draw on ideas from the readings.

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