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Articles: Classroom

In 2015, Moravian College created a new rehabilitation sciences department—but administrators knew these wouldn’t be traditional classrooms. They wanted students to master the physical sciences using hands-on learning and cutting-edge technologies. A similar approach can be used for any higher ed facility looking to boost interest and enrollment. 

First-year college students with executive function (EF) difficulties arrive on campus and can be overwhelmed by the independence.

Donna Fletcher is a higher ed professor of finance at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Legislators, parents and students are not the only ones asking questions about the cost and quality of higher education.

Over ten years ago, members of the humanities division at Blinn College, a two-year community college with four campuses and 18,000 students in central Texas, long suspected students were either not submitting original copy or working with peers on projects when collaboration wasn’t allowed.
 
Teachers had performed Google searches whenever unoriginality was suspected but knew some plagiarized work was slipping through the cracks, says Audrey Wick, an English professor at Blinn.
 

Bill Path is president of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology

Despite its sometimes rigid conventions and customs, higher education is still very good at finding innovative solutions to problems that face students. Today’s college graduates are struggling. They need the technical skills to enter the modern workforce and the ability to advance their careers—not one or the other.

Students at Connecticut College can access its student information system via mobile or desktop.

In today’s world of vast networks and complex data analysis, the student information system is becoming a powerful tool to track—and influence—student success. By looking at the big picture of data generated across an institution’s enterprise resource planning software, universities can begin to forecast student outcomes.

The University of Maryland’s open source textbook initiative, known as “MOST,” has guided faculty through more than 50 OER adoptions. The program helps instructors assemble resources to significantly keep down the cost of course materials.

Open educational resources have grown over the last few years from one-off oddities in single courses to the basis of entire degree programs. Cutting out textbook costs for students tops the list of reasons administrators encourage faculty to develop and adopt these free—or very inexpensive—resources, also known as OER.

Equipped for Response—In 2015, more than 600 instructors and 20,000 students used clickers at  The University of Arizona. The Office of Instruction and Assessment’s resources page offers a primer with clicker best practices and strategies, including tips on writing good questions.  Photo: Thomas Veneklasen Photography/Arizona Board of Regents

Colleges and universities have used student response systems for years to take attendance, administer pop quizzes and register informal polls in larger classes where verbal discussions are limited. But as technology improves, student response systems are becoming more versatile than ever—and instructors are increasingly creative in using them.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Faculty Excellence has experimented with alternative classroom designs that make it easier for instructors to use interactive learning methods—including in lecture hall-sized spaces.

Students enrolled in media ethics at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall walked into a lecture hall that looked radically different than two years ago. Gone is the stadium-style seating. Now the room, used for a wide range of courses, has 100 rolling swivel chairs with adjustable tables and nine mounted video screens.

High-capacity classrooms: The collaborative BioSciences West classroom at The University of Arizona holds up to 112 students.

Active learning should allow students in traditional lecture halls to work in small groups solving problem sets or developing presentations. That can be accomplished without renovating the space, but the layout does present challenges.

Lecture courses can be made more interactive by breaking up class time with small-group activities.

The tiered education department classroom at McGill University in Montreal can accommodate up to 96 students.

What would you say to someone who needs convincing that lecture halls and other large spaces can also be active learning environments?

“Large, active learning classrooms support the largest number of students efficiently. The classroom can also be used outside classroom hours for collaborative activities. You’re really increasing the use and efficiency of the real estate.” —Andrew Kim, manager, WorkSpace Futures, Steelcase

Today, the mastery of writing is critical for success in school, college, and in the vocational, business, and professional workplace. Teachers in K-12 schools across the nation hear their students express fear and loathing of writing – overwhelmed by the writing process and not knowing where to get started.  

Research has shown that active learning—asking students to engage in class with each other and their instructor—is more effective than traditional lecturing.

The nine schools recognized as Summer 2016 Models of Excellence have found that innovation leads to innovation when it comes to student success. Administrators who find new opportunities to provide support encourage students to be creative in making the most of a higher education.

Susan West Engelkemeyer is the president of Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts.

With increasing urgency, today’s colleges are being asked—by business, government and the nonprofit field—to impart so-called “21st century skills” of communication, collaboration, problem-solving and creativity to their students. What’s often missing from the list is leadership.

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