Innovative Practices

Students learning in a chemistry lab

Innovative Practices showcase the rich array of pedagogies and teaching philosophies Guttman instructors incorporate into their teaching. We highlight specific, effective teaching strategies to inspire innovative teaching.

Open Teaching Project

Guttman is a learning-centered institution committed to ensuring students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds can work and learn to the best of their ability. The Open Teaching Project puts the college’s commitment to inclusive excellence at the center of its teaching practices. Utilizing the principles of reflective practice and appreciative inquiry, the Project invites faculty to visit each other’s classrooms—in-person or virtually via video—then collaboratively reflect on pedagogy-in-action in order to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Participation in the Project is voluntary. The Project bears no relation to contractually required teaching observations.

Experiential & Applied Learning

Providing Experiential Learning Opportunities for Guttman Students

Nicole Kras
Assistant Professor, Human Services

This year, Nicole has been working on providing experiential opportunities to Guttman students. Some of these opportunities have included conducting an eco-art workshop where students learned about the fields of ecotherapy and art therapy and then created their own eco-art pieces. During Women’s Herstory Month, Soulyka Agana-Woodbine and Nicole presented Visualizing Your Future, a workshop where students learned about the field of positive psychology and created vision boards. As part of a Student Success grant, Nicole was able to invite New York Therapy Animals to campus to give a workshop on animal-assisted therapy during which students were able to interact with therapy dogs. The Student Success Fund also supported the New York Art Therapy Project providing an on-campus experiential art workshop on the field of art therapy to students. Additionally, these funds supported an interactive visit to the Central Park Zoo for EOW students, where they learned about careers related to animal care. Nicole is also involved in two end-of-semester events to help students relieve some stress during final exams. These events include a Reducing Stress Through Art workshop and an interactive animal-assisted therapy experience.

This year, Nicole has participated in two CUNY conferences, presenting a session titled, Supporting Interprofessional Collaboration in the Helping Professions: Learning About Art Therapy and Ecotherapy at the Bronx Community College Conference on Community College Excellence, and on Fostering Student Creativity in Online Courses at the CUNY IT Conference at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Nicole has also been active in the field of human services, participating as a National Board Member at the National Organization for Human Services in Philadelphia. Additionally, she presented an interactive workshop, Using Art as a Non-Verbal Form of Expression to Help Individuals Deal with Life Stressors, at the Southern Organization for Human Services in Miami, and co-presented the workshop Change: No Need to Fear It at the New England Organization for Human Services in East Hartford, CT. Nicole serves as the President of the New England Organization for Human Services and co-chaired the conference planning.

Download Providing Experiential Learning Opportunities for Guttman Students.

Learning and Documenting
Health/Heritage Connections

Kristina Baines
Assistant Professor, Anthropology


As a sociocultural anthropologist with an applied medical/environmental focus, Baines conducts research on how engaging in traditional ecological and cultural practices impacts health in indigenous and immigrant communities. Through her work in Maya communities in Belize, she developed Embodied Ecological Heritage (EEH), a framework for understanding health from the perspective of the lived experience of individuals engaged in social practices. Extending her research to Latin American and Caribbean immigrant communities across New York City and, most recently, Los Angeles, Baines is committed to publicly engaged research and dissemination practices and to foster connections between students, community members, and researchers. Read more about this research on the Medicine Anthropology Theory website.

Innovative Teaching Practice:

In the Fall of 2018, Baines developed and taught a LAS Capstone course based on situating and developing the EEH framework with a variety of readings and assignments illuminating health/heritage connections. As part of the course, students collaboratively developed interview questions conducted and analyzed interview data using Dedoose, a collaborative qualitative analysis software, and, from those data, selected environmental and cultural heritage practices that were identified as important to healthy lives among immigrant communities in NYC. They then planned and filmed short YouTube videos to capture those practices in a way that they would appeal to young people both inside and outside of those communities. The videos were collaboratively critiqued and edited in class, then showcased at an event attended by members of the NYC Department of Health. The class videos were shared digitally and can be viewed on YouTube.

Student Impact:

Through engaging with the EEH framework in both theoretical and applied ways, students learned across several dimensions. They reinforced their identities as scholars and researchers by developing and conducting interviews. They learned how to create media for popular consumption based on research data, solidifying their civic responsibility to share their knowledge with their communities. They also gained more specific knowledge about heritage practices in their own communities. In their reflective writing assignments in class, students relayed this as important in learning more about their families and communities from a “whole person” perspective.

This work continues with student research assistants funded by the CUNY Community College Research Grant and, moving forward, the Course Hero- Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching.

Download Learning and Documenting Health/Heritage Connections.

Teaching Through Theater & Performance

Program Description

The Roundabout Theatrical Teaching Institution training aligns with and can enrich Guttman’s instructional principles. Roundabout transforms theaters into classrooms and classrooms into theaters by engaging participants in active learning and collaboration and by empowering participants to become agents in their own learning and lives. Elements of theater are used to create inquiry-based learning in the classroom. Through these theatrical techniques, Roundabout supports learning by increasing curiosity, varying participatory activities, and through collaborative inquiry and reflection that appeal to and across different modes of learning. The Roundabout teaching philosophy is taught through a work of theater that is culturally relevant to the students; this work is also used to examine complex perspectives on historical and contemporary issues.

Learning Outcomes

Student’s learning process and engagement:

  • How a narrative arc in a lesson can be engaging
  • Being attentive to the learner’s need
  • Structuring a lesson like a play
  • Getting students up and moving

Teaching artistry and performativity:

  • Using theatre can make a more dynamic educational environment
  • Having a flexible role and character
  • Connections between theatre and lesson planning
  • Connecting performance with teaching
  • Theatre vocabulary

Collaborative team teaching:

  • It is possible for teachers with different philosophies and personalities to successfully co-teach
  • Developing a lesson plan collaboratively through brainstorming


In classroom practice:

  • Using a tableau based on an excerpt of text as an inciting incident (and as a way to check reading comprehension and listening skills)
  • Utilizing an inciting incident
  • More performance-oriented teaching
  • Templates and lesson structure

Guttman Arts in NYC Course

  • Musicality in a previously more visually-driven course
  • Warm-ups and inciting incidents
  • Comfort discussing elements of performance

Teaching Through Games & Play

Game Changers: A Study of Structural Inequality and Reform

Vivian Lim, Assistant Professor, Mathematics
Matthew Mead, Lecturer, English

In the fall of 2018, our City Seminar team (including Andrea Morrell & Angela Dunne) created a game to engage students in studying structural and institutional inequality. The game—a simulation—undergoes three phases with each phase serving a unique pedagogical purpose.

The first phase of the game is set in an egalitarian fantasy where players all start with the same resources and then face a series of scenarios each day over 5 days: 1) crossing a bridge into town, 2) eating a meal, and 3) crossing a bridge back home. At each juncture, players can choose to pay a token to complete each required action (i.e. cross a bridge or eat lunch), or they can risk avoiding payment by rolling dice. Losing a dice roll results in consequences, including fees or jail time. This base game simulates a social hierarchy based primarily on luck and some skill assessing probability. In a subsequent round of play, students consider the concept of meritocracy, as winners from the first round start with more initial resources than losers.

The second phase requires students to revise the game to reflect New York City, a process we call “New York Citification.” Students analyze demographic data to create a set of character cards that mirror the demographics of New York City neighborhoods. These researched asset and income values determine how many tokens they start the game with and earn throughout.

However, for the bulk of the work in this phase, students conduct research about various systems in New York City (transportation, health, criminal justice, educational, and financial). Students discover the inequalities within these systems and translate those elements into the game by adding features and revising the original rules. This makes the game very unequal and success is essentially determined from the demographic character cards players begin with.

In the final phase, students study theories of social change and they research policies and movements. Based on theory and research, students write proposals to change the game again, this time to establish greater equality. They pilot, debate, and vote on these proposals. The winning proposals are implemented into the final version of the game.

During culminating course experiences, the three cohorts in our house played each other’s final versions to reflect on different visions of society and equality created by each class. Several students also volunteered to present their work with us at the CUNY Games Conference this year.

Download Game Changers: A Study of Structural Inequality and Reform.

Engaging Prior Knowledge

Working Out the Rule:
An Inductive Approach to Teaching Grammar Across the Disciplines

Marion S. Jacobson
ESL Coordinator

Inductive Approach to Grammar

Students are given examples and work on exercises culminating in the opportunity to formulate the rules themselves. This approach is based on the assumptions that (1) students will internalize a rule more efficiently if they have intuited (or formed) the rule themselves and that (2) students who have established their own understanding of a rule are more likely to apply it to what they write.

Solving Verb Problems Inductively

Look at these sentences:

  1. They found her wallet
  2. Sam baked some cookies.
  3. Donna speaks three languages.

What do all the underlined words have in common?

  1. They are types of events
  2. They show action
  3. They are things people do, feel, see, hear, touch, taste, smell, or experience.

These are:   a) nouns             b) adjectives              c) verbs

Inductive Approach to Teaching Academic Writing: Verbs as Markers of Formality

Student Group A

  1. Using a ride-hailing app ensures that riders are entering the right vehicle
  2. Using a ride-hailing app makes sure that riders are getting into the right vehicle.

Student Group B

  1. If ride-hailing apps went into effect fully across the world, we could keep down the death toll from drunk driving accidents.
  2. If ride-hailing apps were fully implemented across the world, we could reduce the death toll from drunk driving accidents.

Student Group C

  1. DUIs went down as much as 9.2%…..
  2. DUIs decreased as much as 9.2%…..

Reminder: circled items are LESS formal. Can you develop a rule based on observations?

Possible answer: Multi-word verbs (phrasal verbs) can often seem more informal than one-word verbs.

Think-Pair-Share interactions

Individual:  Identify the less formal sentence

Pair:  Check results and compare the sentences examining the verbs

Whole Class:  Discuss findings and implications

Rules about academic formality aren’t true 100% of the time. The point is to help students become more conscious of their word choices and their effects on the reader.  Pro Tip: Include “Verb Formality” in a student self-editing checklist and/or rubric for essays, lab reports, case studies, etc.

Download Working Out the Rule: An Inductive Approach to Teaching Grammar Across the Disciplines.

Class Dynamics & Collaboration

5 Steps to Design a Successful Group Experience

Claire King
Assistant Professor, Experiential Education

  1. Give confidential Google Survey and create diverse groups from responses:
    In order to make this a great group experience for YOU, please respond thoughtfully to the following questions:NAME:
  1. Among the following topics (theories, concepts, issues, individuals), choose the top 3 that interest you:
  2. Choose the role that you find yourself taking within your family or friends. (one only): leader; details person; spokesperson; decision-maker; motivator, other
  3. Of the following traits, which comes naturally to you? (one only): creativity & ideas; organization; positive thinking & encouragement; responsibility; persistence; other
  4. Of the following skills, which do you possess? Choose all that apply: strong writing, careful research, proofreading, visual design, movie-making, PowerPoint, Prezi, reading comprehension, meeting deadlines, following directions, asking good questions, keeping on task, delegating, other.
  5. Is there anything you want me to know when assigning you to a group so that you can do your best work?


  1. 1st Group gathering. Break students into groups according to topics & skills. Have them complete and reflect upon The Marshmallow Challenge (Google the version with good reflection questions).
  2. 2nd Group Gathering (handout):

You are accountable to the most important person in your life: YOU! What do you hope to learn from this project/course? Write it on the post-it.

Group Roles: What can you contribute? Mark your role with a star.

  • Facilitator: The leader of the group who regularly communicates with everyone, motivates, and delegates, making sure everyone does their part.
  • Peer Reviewer: Looks at all written work from individuals (summaries and multimedia presentation) before it is graded.
  • Team Tutor: Makes sure the group understands the content and checks the project rubric often.
  • Organizer: Records and organizes the group’s work for each class session and independent work – they are not the only person who does the work, but are responsible for keeping everyone on track with deadlines.
  • Designer: Takes the lead in the final multi-media project (movie, Prezi, Animoto, Powtoon, Google Slides, Adobe Spark, Voki, etc.) – doesn’t do all the work, but plans and perfects it for date of presentation.

Group Agreements: As a group, come up with no more than 3 agreements that are based on what everyone wrote on the post-it. Write the 3 agreements on the 2nd post-it. Member Contact info? Plan if absent? How to share material?

Group Member Termination Steps: **No firing before___or after___. All prior steps must be followed. **

1: Warning given by group members. Usually involves repeating the things already agreed to in the group contract. If the warning needs to be emailed, cc: faculty. May involve writing an action plan for the person who is struggling.

2: Seek faculty mediation with the group/individual if the action plan is not working. Faculty may be asked to be the advocate of the person not being listened to/heard in their group.

3: Remove student from group. Before this step, consider how it would impact the group if the person you want to remove took all of their input with them. Removed student is responsible for completing the whole project independently.

  1. Provide Rubric to be graded by Self, Group Consensus, and Instructor. Average of all three is Student’s grade.

Download Five Steps to Design a Successful Group Experience.

Projects Prompting Imagination & Creativity

Assignment: New Superhero Project

Meghan Gilbert-Hickey
Assistant Professor, English

General Description

Throughout this semester we’ve examined superheroes and what they have to tell us about the cultures in which they’re created and consumed. For this final project, we’ll reverse it: you’ll create your own superhero and tell us how (s)he is responding to an issue in the contemporary culture of your choosing.

Project Requirements

There are three components to this project: 1) your creative project; 2) your written analysis of your project; and 3) your presentation. Yes, it’s complicated. But it’s going to be AMAZING.

  1. CREATIVE PROJECT (40 points):  The CREATIVE PROJECT component can take almost any form imaginable, as long as it demonstrates both the origin story and characteristics of your new superhero. Some options for this component include (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Tumblr/Blog from the perspective of your superhero
  • Facebook page or Twitter account for your superhero
  • Psychological Profile of your superhero
  • News article/broadcast (filmed in advance or performed in class)
  • Visual representation (painting, sculpture, drawing, etc.)
  • Literary narrative (short story, poem)
  • Diary/Journal for your superhero
  • Soundtrack (Mix CD) with liner notes to explain the justification for each song
  • Comic featuring your superhero
  • Video enactment of your superhero (filmed in advance or performed in class)
  • Almost anything you can imagine!!
  1. ESSAY (40 pts): The essay will offer a highly-detailed written account of how the rhetorical, material, methodological, and technological choices you made contributed to the creation of your superhero. Rather than present a sustained argument, your essay will consist of the following sections:
    1. Project Goal. What? Why? Provide an overview of your superhero’s origin and characteristics.
    2. Description of Process. Who? What? When? Why? How? Talk about how the project came together.
  • Analysis/Interpretation. How is your superhero a response to an issue in contemporary culture? You should present a clearly-defined and well-supported thesis statement in this section and demonstrate both your knowledge of the cultural issue you’ve created a hero to respond to and HOW your hero responds to that issue.)

  • 7-8 PAGES
  1. PRESENTATION: Your presentation should cover all of the important material in your essay. You may also want to include digital materials like images or video clips.

  • 20 MINUTES

Download Assignment: New Superhero Project.