Kristy Hartsgroove Mooers, lecturer, theatre arts
Lecturer of Theatre Arts Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers

This series highlights an array of teaching strategies implemented by faculty members at the University of Iowa. Each strategy aims to enhance student engagement and broaden the scope of their learning.  


This month’s strategies are provided by Lecturer of Theatre Arts Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers.


  1. Ensemble. Students often come to my classes worried about what they are going to do about stage fright, and truly, getting up and performing in a roomful of strangers is daunting no matter how much experience you have. To that end, we play improvisation games designed to get students to connect and support each other, and not just to break the ice in the beginning, but throughout the whole semester. This creates a sense of ensemble, which helps students feel more confident taking creative risks in the classroom.
  2. De-centering myself in class discussion. As much as I sometimes want to offer my opinion in class discussions, I have to remain mindful of the fact that my job is to facilitate a conversation, because students will learn more if they find their own way through the material. I try to look for ways to create questions instead of present answers.
  3. Vulnerability. In my classes, I ask my students to share their authentic selves in a brave way, so I need to be doing that as well. The risk, of course, is that a student might take a teacher’s humility as casualness, or an apparent lack of mastery, but I have found that students are encouraged and inspired to share their own authenticity as a result of my willingness to do so.
  4. Finding opportunities to show practical application of the classwork. The arts often get siloed and considered peripheral to a well-rounded education, but experience and training in the performing arts can be helpful in myriad ways in every profession. It’s important to take time and acknowledge that every profession requires creativity, risk, and collaboration, and participation and training in the arts is enriching for all of us, no matter what our course of study.