Faculty showcase: Active learning strategies for large classes
Our recent Faculty Showcase featured Julie Morris from the Department of Biology. The showcase was held in Sturm 134, DU‘s new “flat classroom.” Unlike larger classrooms that are typically built amphitheater-style, Sturm 134 was created specifically to support classes with larger enrollments that utilize active learning methods. The room seats up to 80 students and contains multiple screens, multiple whiteboards, and movable tables.
Julie began the session by giving those in attendance a small group activity, modeling what she often does with her intro-level biology classes. Participants gathered around whiteboards to brainstorm the benefits and challenges of active learning and then rotated to a different whiteboard to provide feedback to the responses of a different group.
She showed some of the activities she uses with students: “connect the concepts” terminology activities, learning journals that guide students through their study time, mini-lectures, and group quizzes.
Julie teaches two 80-student sections of a 3-quarter science sequence for non-science majors. She admits that over the years she has created a “sales pitch,” not only to get students to understand the rationale for learning about biology, but also for learning through active, non-lecture methods. She feels this has been worth it. Students from previous year’s classes have been willing to come back to share how this class has taught them the importance of knowing about science, and learning for understanding and long-term retention rather than memorizing for the exam and immediately forgetting.
Be sure to join us for future Faculty Showcase sessions!