Dr. Keith Sawyer is a professor of education at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Spring 2018: The Maker Movement and Education
"First time taking a course with Dr. Sawyer – he is truly excited about the material he teaches and it has shown me a side of education I had never really considered before. Highly recommend this class and Dr. Sawyer." --Anonymous student evaluation
"He was a great teacher. He is very enthusiastic about the material and was open to feedback to make sure we were best learning the material." --Anonymous student evaluation
Education research shows that people learn better when they move, they work with their hands, they manipulate objects, and they design and make things. We've known this for years, but it's been very hard to design activities for children where they can move and make, and at the same time learn the required course material. But today that's changed, thanks to exciting new technologies that bring learning and making together. Today's parents and teachers can choose from a big variety of research-based toys and software apps that engage children in playing, making, and creating. Libraries, schools, and museums are opening "maker spaces" where children can use tools to create and make their own ideas. Learning goals:
- A working familiarity with the latest learning technologies: apps, toys, and robots
- An understanding of the science of how people learn
- An ability to critically evaluate the potential of a technology for teaching and learning
- An ability to design a learning environment for a target learner, for a desired learning outcome, in a way that is aligned with learning sciences research and that integrates appropriate technologies
Fall 2017: Psychology of Creativity
"Every undergraduate student should take this class. After taking the Psychology of Creativity, I learned that creativity is not just a spark of insight. Professor Sawyer taught us an 8-step process that helps me be more creative." --Anonymous student evaluation
The class combines research and practice on creativity. We will read and discuss research in psychology, sociology, history, anthropology, and other disciplines. An important way to become more creative is to learn what science has discovered about creative individuals, creative personalities, creative groups and teams, creative organizations, and creative cultures, societies, and historical periods. You will engage in guided hands-on participation in activities that apply the research to enhance your own creativity. An important way to become more creative is to practice the habits and behaviors associated with successful creativity. Learning goals:
- Learn a broad range of empirical scientific findings. This includes both the science of the mind (psychology, neuroscience) as well as the science of creative groups and organizations (social psychology, organizational behavior, sociology, anthropology).
- Learn a wide variety of techniques and exercises that have been found to be helpful in enhancing the creative process, and learn how to apply them in a variety of situations.
- Learn a process of deliberate creativity that consistently leads to successful problem solutions and outcomes.
- Increase your awareness of your own creative processes.
May 2016: Chancellor's Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop
"The program really should be opened to all incoming faculty members. This has the potential to really change how junior faculty go about developing their research programs." "Every department chair at UNC should attend!" "A great application of entrepreneurship concepts to the Academy." --Anonymous participant evaluations
The Chancellor’s Faculty Entrepreneurship Boot Camp is a strategic initiative sponsored by UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt, by Interim Vice Chancellor Judith Cone, by the School of Education, and by the UNC General Administration and President Tom Ross. The first annual Chancellor’s boot camp took place in May 2009, and it has taken place every May since 2009. May 2015 will be the seventh annual boot camp.The boot camp is designed to help faculty develop the entrepreneurial mindset: a way of thinking that will give them new ways to solve problems and to bring their ideas to reality. In four days, May 11-14, 2015, participants will share ideas, form teams, and develop ideas for university-based ventures.
Fall 2015: Development and Learning
"The course content and delivery was excellent. I would highly recommend this instructor and this class." "This was a great class! Would highly recommend." --Anonymous student evaluations
Students will receive an introduction to the most influential theoretical approaches to the study of development and learning. Through two empirical projects and a final paper, students will learn how to apply various methodological approaches, and theoretical frameworks, to the study of specific instances of development and learning. This is an interdisciplinary course, because development and learning have been studied from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Readings will include developmental psychology, learning sciences, and cultural anthropology.
Spring 2014 and Spring 2015: Learning Theories: Introduction to Cognitive Science and Sociocultural Perspectives
Students will read, discuss, critique, and apply the full range of learning theories, including but not limited to behaviorism, constructivism, and socioculturalism. We will read original source texts and engage with the pre-eminent theorists who have had a major impact on the learning sciences and on pedagogical practice. Through participation in EDUC918, Learning Theories, students will:
- Understand philosophy of science perspectives on theory, explanation, and causation in the social sciences, and different forms of theory and explanation found in the history of the philosophy of science
- Understand the sociocultural context and the goals of various learning theories
- Comprehend how various learning theories are similar to and different from one another, what their relative strengths and weaknesses are, and what learning phenomena they are most appropriate for
- Understand the empirical and methodological approach most appropriate to each learning theory
- Identify the implications of various learning theories for pedagogical practice
Fall 2014: Learning How to Create
What teaching strategies, educational software designs, and project assignments are more likely to lead to creative learning? These questions have become important among education researchers, school leaders, and policy makers, because in today’s innovation age, creative graduates are needed both for economic growth and also to solve pressing social problems.
One potential solution is to develop new creativity training courses. However, there is substantial evidence that creativity in any given discipline requires a particular kind of disciplinary expertise. And if so, we may have to change the way people learn in each of the content areas. For example, schools of engineering must change the way that they teach core disciplinary knowledge; departments of physics, biology, and chemistry have to change the way they teach their core subject matter.
In this advanced discussion seminar, we will read a variety of scholarly articles—empirical studies, theoretical works, and policy documents—to explore how we might redesign teaching and learning in each content area, to help learners be prepared to be creative with, and go beyond, what they are learning. The interdisciplinary reading list will include seminal works in learning sciences, cognitive psychology, creativity research, and arts and design education.