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Boredom Busters

7 Ways Our Professors Bring Learning to Life

 

If you’re picturing college classrooms as places where you slump in a chair at the back of the room and mindlessly jot down every word that some unapproachable professor says while lecturing, uninterrupted, for an hour, well, let us give you a happy jolt of Carthage reality.

Here are a few techniques our faculty use to connect with students and make their lessons come to life.

1. Replay history, then revise it

Students in Professor Eric Pullin's classes sometimes simulate history using a tool called Reacti...Games? Simulations? Whatever you call these role-playing exercises, they’ve grown into a popular staple in several Carthage history classes.

The setting might be the Continental Congress in 1774, Mexico’s push for independence in 1910, or India’s in 1945. Portraying historical figures with differing goals and motives, students often wear costumes to slip deeper into character.

Drawing from primary sources, they can plot assassinations and overthrow governments. The game’s outcome inevitably strays from what really happened — and that’s OK. In fact, that’s where the real learning begins.

Read more about the use of simulations at Carthage

 

2. Pitch your business to the sharks

In the capstone Business to Business Marketing course, Professor J.J. Shields sets teams of stude...In the capstone Business to Business Marketing course, Professor J.J. Shields sets teams of students free to brainstorm an original product or service, study its feasibility, and carry out a marketing plan for it.

Similarly to the TV show “Shark Tank,” the teams wrap up the course by pitching their ideas to a panel of experts led by Prof. Shields. Bring your ‘A’ game, because this shark cut his teeth at major corporations like Miller Brewing, ABB Robotics, and Snap-On.

Read more about Business at Carthage

 

3. Si, oui, and .mp3

Modern languages professor Pascal Rollet composes music for himself and others to use in French a...Modern languages professor Pascal Rollet has written dozens of songs in French and Spanish that boost Carthage students’ fluency by highlighting verb tenses, possessive adjectives or other grammar points.

Counterparts at some other schools do it, too, but theirs are childlike tunes you’d rather not have lingering in your head. Prof. Rollet uses Garage Band software to merge synthesized instruments, guitar, and, of course, vocals into songs a college audience can tolerate.

See Prof. Rollet’s faculty profile

 

4. Why we’re fooled by magic

Professor Anthony Barnhart is a professional magician who uses tricks to illustrate the psycholog...Winner of four national magic competitions, Professor Tony Barnhart performs rope tricks, coin tricks, card tricks — just about anything short of a rabbit and top hat — in both lecture and lab courses.

He focuses mainly on “inattentional blindness,” a psychological principle that good magicians exploit.

“You know exactly what’s happening, and you still fall for it every time,” said psychology graduate Alison Mackey ’17. “That’s amazing to me.”

See Prof. Barnhart’s faculty profile

 

5. Get off campus … like, way off

Carthage faculty have led several study tours to South Africa.Reading about South African apartheid? That’s important. Seeing the remnants in person? Now there’s a lesson you won’t forget.

Each J-Term, our faculty lead roughly a dozen study tours to destinations from Germany to Namibia. Carthage is a national leader in short-term study abroad.

Read more about J-Term at Carthage

 

6. Flip the classroom

Professor Mark Mahoney records a computer science lecture. He uses a flipped classroom, meaning s...Professor Mark Mahoney’s computer science students are welcome to watch his lectures in their PJs, and we’re not talking about a really lax dress code. He uses a flipped classroom, meaning students watch his recorded lectures in their free time and do the “homework” in class.

“I know that my computer science students will not learn how to develop software simply by watching me do it. They have to struggle through the process in order for it to stick,” Prof. Mahoney said. “I want to be in the room as much as possible when they do their ‘real’ learning.”

He has company. Physics professor Brant Carlson’s quantum mechanics video playlist has been viewed more than 300,000 times on YouTube.

 

7. Virtual explorations

Students in Professor Wenjie Sun's Geography of East Asia course use Google VR viewers to study l...

Because it’s not feasible to commute overseas every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, our geospatial science faculty often use virtual reality to give students a vivid, 360-degree sense of a location they’re studying.

Attaching Google VR viewers to their smartphones, the students in Geography of East Asia course spend a day following Professor Wenjie Sun from the Great Wall to Tiananmen Square in China before moving on to Japan’s Mount Fuji and destinations in South Korea.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2019), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has been named a top producer of Fulbright Fellows three years running. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

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