Module 3: Active Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning in the Lab:

Putting It in Students' Hands


This activity is intended to help technical faculty develop increasingly active classrooms by examining what typically happens in the classroom, then determining ways to let students take over as many activities as possible.

Creating a more active learning environment doesn't have to involve radical change or a huge shift in mind-set. Simply by putting the equipment—dry erase marker, microscope, projector, control panel—into the hands of students, faculty can dramatically alter the classroom dynamic and help students experience a sense of ownership, control, and heightened motivation.

Some transitions to student-centered classrooms require a bit more planning. In this exercise, complete the following worksheet, Simple Active Learning Strategies (an Adobe PDF document, 100k). Outline common classroom activities and strategize ways to get students involved in those activities. Use the first few common activities as a guide.

If you're new to active learning, start small and plan to add more student-controlled activities each time you teach the course. Continue to add classroom activities to your lists and observe student responses to taking charge.

As you get more comfortable, brainstorm new ways to work active learning into the curriculum, such as standardizing group discussion roles or division of responsibilities or allowing students to select some curriculum components. You can also invite a colleague, department chair, or teaching expert into the classroom to help you repurpose and rearrange the dynamics of your course offerings. Make a commitment to add one or two additional student-centered activities each semester.