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Teaching Innovation Projects

Department

English

Summary

Traditionally, most university instructors – particularly those in English departments – use didactic, or “chalk-and-talk,” teaching methods organized around readings and lectures. Yet numerous studies suggest that incorporating multisensory learning techniques in the classroom can more effectively promote student learning. Research shows that smell is a particularly powerful learning tool, as the olfactory sense is deeply connected to memory and emotion. However, most instructors – including those invested in multisensory learning – often overlook scent as a learning tool. Research also shows that smell also has a unique relationship to language and representation. Scents are typically constructed as purely visceral, subjective phenomena that escape our linguistic system, yet in spite of the apparent limits of representing smell in language, writers often describe scents in literature. This seminar combines research on scent as a multisensory learning tool with studies on smell’s relationship to language to explore how instructors can productively use scent in the university English classroom. However, olfactory learning tools need not be limited to teaching texts or ideas that deal explicitly with scent. This seminar specifically explores how smell can be incorporated into teaching literary concepts at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced level, and suggests that scent is particularly useful for teaching concepts that deal with issues of language and representation. Students can therefore reap the benefits of smell as a multisensory learning tool even if they are not studying topics or texts that deal directly with scent.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


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