Improvisation in the Classroom

Deborah Finkelstein

Session Information

Year: 2017 | Time: 2:45pm-4:15pm | Location: WORKSHOP: Johnson Center (Room C)

Abstract

BRIEF SESSION DESCRIPTION:

Digital technology can distract students from being mindful/present in their learning.  Improvisation improves critical thinking, class participation, creative problem solving, brainstorming, teamwork, listening skills, creativity, and confidence, all of which are challenges in the classroom.  The presenter will demonstrate improvisation exercises and then lead the participants in these exercises, including variations on the improvisation exercises to adjust them to fit participants’ needs. Participants will receive an overview of how these exercises are being used in various disciplines, including medicine, law, mathematics, humanities, and business at universities (e.g., Johns Hopkins, MIT, Harvard), as well as their use by companies (e.g., Goldman Sachs, Google, Raytheon). The presenter will share tips and strategies gained while using these exercises in her classroom as well as performing in an improve troupe, and performing research on improvisation and learning.  Past participants from multiple disciplines have reported that they have utilized the skills in their classes and received positive feedback from students. As a take-away, a handout will be provided that lists additional improvisational resources for further learning.

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FULL ABSTRACT: Digital technology can distract students from being mindful/present in their learning.  Improvisation improves critical thinking, class participation, creative problem solving, brainstorming, teamwork, listening skills, creativity, and confidence, all of which are challenges in the classroom.  The presenter will demonstrate improvisation exercises and then lead the participants in these exercises, including variations on the improvisation exercises to adjust them to fit participants’ needs. Participants will receive an overview of how these exercises are being used in various disciplines, including medicine, law, mathematics, humanities, and business at universities such as Johns Hopkins, Duke, MIT, Harvard, UCLA, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago, as well as their use by companies such as Goldman Sachs, Pepsi, Apple, Google, Fidelity, Twitter, Raytheon, Red Bull, Capital One, Shell, and TED. As a take-away, a handout will be provided that lists additional improvisational resources for further learning, such as pedagogical articles from journals, articles on the use of improvisation in the job world, and articles from leaders in the improvisation field. The presenter will share tips and strategies gained while using these exercises in her classroom as well as performing in an improve troupe, and performing research on improvisation and learning.  The author has previously presented on improvisation in the classroom at New England Faculty Development Consortium; Massachusetts Community College Teaching, Learning, and Student Development Conference; Endicott College Student Orientation, and faculty at Endicott College and North Shore Community College. Past participants from multiple disciplines have reported that they have utilized the skills in their classes and received positive feedback from students.

Keywords

active learning; active learning classrooms; mindfulness; experiential learning; student engagement; student motivation; critical thinking

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