Tag Archives: Active learning

March 8, 2012, 8:30 am

A Lesson From the Past on Active Learning


I found this quote the other day from a book about electricity. Read it and see if you can guess the source and the year in which it was made:

It would be a dry, dull and uninteresting thing to tell a [child] that electricity can be generated by riveting together two pieces of dissimilar metals, and applying heat to the juncture. But put into his hands the metals, and set him to perform the actual work of riveting the metals together, then wiring up the ends of the metals, heating them, and, with a galvanometer, watching for results, it will at once make him see something in the experiment which never occurred when the abstract theory was propounded.

He will inquire first what metals should be used to get the best results, and finally, he will speculate as to the reasons for the phenomena. When he learns that all metals are positive-negative or negative-positive to each…

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February 6, 2012, 2:52 pm

Resistance to the inverted classroom can show up anywhere

This past Saturday I was paired with one of our faculty from the College of Nursing to interview several prospective students for academic scholarships. In between interviews, we had a great conversation about the inverted classroom. It turns out that the College of Nursing is implementing an inverted model in some of their classes, although they don’t know it by that name and are not trying to jump on an educational bandwagon. They are taking some of their courses, putting the “theory” (as it was called) online as audio files accompanied by sets of notes, and then using the class time for practica, labs, and discussion. When I described what I’ve written about here on the inverted classroom, my colleague readily agreed it was the same idea.

This makes a lot of sense in the health sciences because as a practitioner, theory and raw information are important, but it’s the practice…

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June 22, 2010, 7:42 pm

Partying like it's 1995

Yesterday at the ASEE conference, I attended mostly sessions run by the Liberal Education Division. Today I gravitated toward the Mathematics Division, which is sort of an MAA-within-the-ASEE. In fact, I recognized several faces from past MAA meetings. I would like to say that the outcome of attending these talks has been all positive. Unfortunately it’s not. I should probably explain.

The general impression from the talks I attended is that the discussions, arguments, and crises that the engineering math community is dealing with are exactly the ones that the college mathematics community in general, and the MAA in particular, were having — in 1995. Back then, mathematics instructors were asking questions such as:

  • Now that there’s relatively inexpensive technology that will do things like plot graphs and take derivatives, what are we supposed to teach now?
  • Won’t all that technology…

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April 17, 2010, 6:15 am

Active learning is essential, not optional, for STEM students

This article (1.2 MB, PDF)  by three computer science professors at Miami University (Ohio) is an excellent overview of the concept of the inverted classroom and why it could be the future of all classrooms given the techno-centric nature of Millenials. (I will not say “digital natives”.) The article focuses on using inverted classroom models in software engineering courses. This quote seemed particularly important:

Software engineering is, at its essence, an applied discipline that involves interaction with customers, collaboration with globally distributed developers, and hands-on production of software artifacts. The education of future software engineers is, by necessity, an endeavor that requires students to be active learners. That is, students must gain experience, not in isolation, but in the presence of other learners and under the mentorship of instructors and practitioners. …

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