GTREET: Georgia Tech Retreat Exploring Effective Teaching


The Center for Teaching and Learning’s biennial event – the Georgia Tech Retreat Exploring Effective Teaching (GTREET) - is an opportunity for faculty across the Institute to gather and actively explore innovative ways to improving learning for Georgia Tech students.  


Our time together in January 2020 was guided by the overarching question How might we move beyond (unhelpful) traditional educational structures to build a culture of challenge, meaningful experience, and flourishing for our Georgia Tech students? To explore this question, attendees participated in a think-tank-style workshop focusing on ideas for tapping into student motivations and “superpowers” and testing the potential for non-traditional grading strategies in our teaching practices and innovations. 


This year’s speaker was cultural, linguistic, psychological, and educational anthropologist, Dr. Susan D. Blum, professor of anthropology at theUniversity of Notre Dame, and author of I Love Learning, I Hate School: An Anthropology of College as well as a forthcoming collection on “ungrading.” Her recent work attempts to understand the educational experience of her students and how traditional teaching practices and academic structures, even at an elite institution, are often at odds with students’ motivations and goals.


In her talk, Building on Students' Superpowers: Ungrading, Motivation, Curiosity, and Real LearningDr. Blum shared her findings and personal experiences, as well as introduced the concept of “ungrading” as one way to build a culture of challenge, meaningful experience, and flourishing for our students (read Dr. Blum’s Inside Higher Ed article on ungrading here). She drew on the anthropology of learning as well as Scholarship of Teaching and Learning to suggest that innovative pedagogical approaches such as ungrading can yield better learning, more honest relationships with students, and more authentic preparation for life beyond school.