active learning techniques February 28, 2018

Deeper Thinking about Active Learning

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I keep worrying that we’re missing the boat with active learning. Here’s why. First, active learning isn’t about activity for the sake of activity. I fear we’ve gotten too fixated on the activity and aren’t as focused as we should be on the learning. We’re still obsessed with collecting teaching techniques—all those strategies, gimmicks, approaches, and things we can do to get students engaged. But what kind of engagement does the activity promote? Does it pique student interest, make them think, result in learning, and cultivate a desire to know more? Or is it more about keeping basically bored students busy?



TA working with small group of students. May 19, 2017

Using a Flipped Classroom Approach and Just-in-Time Teaching to Engage Students

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Silvia Martins, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology in Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, faced a challenge in her introductory epidemiology course, Principles of Epidemiology. She found that students needed more time to process the weekly lecture material before attending the follow-up seminar sessions with teaching assistants (TAs).

As a recipient of the Provost’s Hybrid Learning Course Redesign and Delivery grant, Martins worked with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) to develop a plan that would give students the opportunity to spend more time with lecture content as well as provide TAs with feedback on how students were absorbing the material. Over the course of several semesters Martins redesigned the course using the flipped classroom model and incorporated recorded video lectures and Just-in-Time-Teaching (JiTT) techniques that promote the use of class time for more active learning.


female student at computer February 17, 2017

Getting Started with Blended Learning Videos

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“There’s just not enough time in class with students!” It’s a common faculty complaint, and when students are provided quality course materials they can use outside class, this blended learning approach gives faculty more time in class. A variety of materials can be developed for use outside class. In this article, we’d like to focus on creating video content that students use for a blended learning course.


group work in college classroom January 23, 2017

Bridging the Gap between Pre-Work and In-Class Sessions in the Flipped Classroom

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One of the challenges of the flipped classroom is building meaningful connections between the pre-work and the in-class sessions. Opponents of the flipped classroom argue that information overload can easily occur in flipped classrooms (Benitez, 2014). Furthermore, while many instructors prefer to use short videos or online modules for the delivery of the pre-work, active learning strategies in the classroom need not be tech heavy. The greatest benefit to using the flipped classroom is the implementation of active learning strategies within the repurposed class time (Michael, 2006; Jensen et al., 2015). The techniques provided here can all be completed in your class with whiteboards, markers, and/or chart paper. In this article, I will share four different strategies that can help your students connect with your classroom pre-work, and embrace a constructivist approach that will help them apply their new knowledge.


active learning September 26, 2016

The Flipped Classroom Unplugged: Three Tech-Free Strategies for Engaging Students

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Throughout this summer article series, we’ve addressed some of the most frequently asked questions about the flipped classroom in higher education. We’ve shared ideas for student motivation, student engagement, time management, student resistance, and large classes. Since this is the final article in the series, I reviewed my notes and the findings from the Faculty Focus reader survey on flipped classroom trends (2015), and there’s one more topic we need to address: creativity.


Teaching large classes August 22, 2016

Flipping Large Classes: Three Strategies to Engage Students

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As we continue our ongoing series focused on the flipped classroom in higher education, it’s time to tackle another frequently asked question: “How can I flip a large class?”

I like this question because it’s not asking whether you can flip a large class, but rather what’s the best way to do it. Faculty who teach large classes are challenged not only by the sheer number of students but also by the physical space in the classroom. Having 100, 200, or 400+ students in class means teaching in large lecture halls with stadium seating and seats that are bolted to the floor. It’s not exactly the ideal space for collaboration and group discussions, so the types of flipped and active learning strategies you can use are more limited.


female professor in front of white board July 11, 2016

Five Time-Saving Strategies for the Flipped Classroom

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A few months ago, I heard a podcast by Michael Hyatt, a best-selling author and speaker who helps clients excel in their personal and professional lives. This particular podcast focused on how to “create margins” in life to reduce stress and avoid burnout. Quoting Dr. Richard Swenson’s work, Hyatt defines a margin as “the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. . . . Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion. . . . Margin is the opposite of overload.”


students working in a group June 13, 2016

Managing In-Class Learning Experiences in Flipped Classrooms

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In this ongoing series focused on flipped and active-learning classrooms, we’re taking a deeper look into how to create successful learning experiences for students. We’ve examined how to encourage students to complete pre-class work, how to hold students accountable for pre-class work, and how to connect pre-class work to in-class activities. Now let’s focus on the challenge of managing the in-person learning environment.


professor in front of large class April 22, 2016

Active Learning: Surmounting the Challenges in a Large Class

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“Enabling interaction in a large class seems an insurmountable task.” That’s the observation of a group of faculty members in the math and physics department at the University of Queensland. It’s a feeling shared by many faculty committed to active learning who face classes enrolling 200 students or more. How can you get and keep students engaged in these large, often required courses that build knowledge foundations in our disciplines?