1st Edition

A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classroom History, Research, and Practice

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    While Active Learning Classrooms, or ALCs, offer rich new environments for learning, they present many new challenges to faculty because, among other things, they eliminate the room’s central focal point and disrupt the conventional seating plan to which faculty and students have become accustomed.The importance of learning how to use these classrooms well and to capitalize on their special features is paramount. The potential they represent can be realized only when they facilitate improved learning outcomes and engage students in the learning process in a manner different from traditional classrooms and lecture halls.This book provides an introduction to ALCs, briefly covering their history and then synthesizing the research on these spaces to provide faculty with empirically based, practical guidance on how to use these unfamiliar spaces effectively. Among the questions this book addresses are:• How can instructors mitigate the apparent lack of a central focal point in the space?• What types of learning activities work well in the ALCs and take advantage of the affordances of the room?• How can teachers address familiar classroom-management challenges in these unfamiliar spaces?• If assessment and rapid feedback are critical in active learning, how do they work in a room filled with circular tables and no central focus point?• How do instructors balance group learning with the needs of the larger class?• How can students be held accountable when many will necessarily have their backs facing the instructor?• How can instructors evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching in these spaces?This book is intended for faculty preparing to teach in or already working in this new classroom environment; for administrators planning to create ALCs or experimenting with provisionally designed rooms; and for faculty developers helping teachers transition to using these new spaces.

    Foreword . Bradley A. Cohen Acknowledgments Introduction 1. History and Research on Active Learning Classrooms 2. What We Currently Know About Active Learning Classrooms 3. The Social Context of Teaching and Learning 4. Common Teaching Challenges in Active Learning Classrooms 5. Assignments and Activities 6. Managing Student Groups 7. Assessment and Feedback 8. Supporting All Students 9. Supporting Faculty 10. Designing Learning Spaces Research 11. Future Directions References About the Authors Index


    Paul Baepler serves as a Research Fellow in the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) at the University of Minnesota. His role is to investigate the efficacy of educational innovations in the classroom and elsewhere in higher education. Paul earned his Ph.D. in American literature and his book, White Slaves, African Masters, (U of Chicago Press, 1999) explores the little-known Barbary captivity narrative. His work has appeared in a variety of journals including Computers and Education, the Journal of College Science Teaching, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, the Journal of Faculty Development, and The New England Quarterly. Along with Brooks and Walker of this volume, he co-edited the Active Learning Spaces volume (#137) of New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Previously at the University, he worked at the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Digital Media Center; and he is the faculty director for test preparation in the College of Continuing Education. J. D. Walker is a Research Associate in the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) at the University of Minnesota, where his work focuses on investigating the impact of digital technologies and other educational innovations on student learning outcomes in higher education, as well as on student engagement and the faculty teaching experience. In collaboration with CEI and faculty colleagues, he has conducted studies of the effectiveness of new, technology-enhanced classroom spaces; flipped and blended-format classes; multimedia and mobile technologies; classes delivered as MOOCs; and the social context of teaching and learning. Walker earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996, and he taught as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota - Duluth, the University of Pennsylvania, and Franklin and Marshall College. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Quantitative Methods in Education from the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesot

    "The book advocates a particular physical organization of the classroom. This is not up to the individual professors, but to the institutions in which they work. Even if one does not have the particular physical layout advocated in this book, there are a number of helpful tips for professors who seek to more actively engage their students. With chapters titled, 'Assignments and Activities,' 'Managing Student Groups,' and 'Assessment and Feedback,' it is easy to find practical suggestions on how to make the classroom less didactic and more engaged. Each chapter has helpful and clear subheadings that make it easy to scan for the topic that one needs. The examples in the book range from the sciences through to the humanities, helping a humanities professor get ideas on means of implementing the method in their own classroom."

    Reflective Teaching (Wabash Center)

    "This perfectly timed book provides a much-needed and extremely useful road map of the history, innovative research, and emerging practices in active learning classrooms. The authors’ extensive knowledge and lived experience as teachers, faculty developers, and educational researchers is palpable on every page. Collectively they cover all the bases, identifying key teaching challenges in the active learning classroom and generating evidence-based suggestions and solutions. Every teacher, scholar, and administrator who seeks to understand the transformations in learning environments that are reshaping how teachers teach and students learn will find this volume a must-read and an indispensable companion."

    Mary Deane Sorcinelli, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Mount Holyoke College

    Founding Director, Center for Teaching & Faculty Development, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    “Active learning in the college classroom can be a particularly effective pedagogical practice. Paul Baepler, J. D. Walker, D. Christopher Brooks, Kem Saichaie, and Christina Petersen have produced and excellent, and very practical and hands-on, guide to maximizing the impact of the active learning classroom. A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classroom should be read by every faculty member or college administrator concerned with student learning.”

    Ernest Pascarella, Mary Louise Petersen Professor of Higher Education

    The University of Iowa

    "This book delivers exactly what is promised by the title. It is full of practical advice but also includes pointers to the research those teaching methods are based upon. There are sample learning materials and help with assessing students and supporting faculty. One book collects everything you need to get started teaching in one of these state-of-the-art spaces and presents it in a clear, organized fashion. Highly recommended!"

    Robert J. Beichner, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Physics

    North Carolina State University

    “Experiential, integrative, and reflective education is enabled through the redesign of space and interaction. A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classroom provides both the conceptual framework and practical advice educators can use to accomplish this.”

    Diana Oblinger, President Emeritus


    “If you are realizing the need for a new kind of learning space on your campus, or if you have new learning spaces but are unsure how to use them well or want to know how well you are using them, you could ask for no better guide than this one.”

    Bradley A. Cohen

    University of Ohio