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Activities and interactions in the classroom vary widely. The CTL promotes pedagogy that engages students through activities designed to leverage the affordances of structured discussion, group work, active learning exercises, fieldwork, and digital technologies.

Interactive lectures

  • One popular way to motivate students in a lecture is to incorporate Think-Pair-Share activities, which pose a question to students that they must consider alone and then discuss with a neighbor before settling on a final answer. The Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College provides information on their website about the advantages and challenges of think-pair-share, and steps, tips, and examples of how think-pair-share can be used in the classroom — as well as a range of other options for activities that can help produce an interactive lecture. (External link)

Active learning

  • Active learning is defined as “anything course-related that all students in a class session are called upon to do other than simply watching, listening and taking notes” (Felder & Brent, 2009). The Cornell University Center for Teaching and Excellence offers a helpful Q&A overview of active learning and further resources on their website. (External link)
  • The Sheridan Center at Brown University offers a list of activities that provide students with opportunities to deepen their learning by applying concepts and articulating new knowledge. Many of these activities also provide the instructor feedback about the students’ learning. Activities include entry/exit tickets, free writing exercises, ice breakers, interactive demonstrations, and more. (External link)
  • The University of Minnesota Center for Educational Innovation has a list of considerations for instructors preparing to teach in an active learning classroom. The website also includes a list of specific challenges that those new to an active learning classroom should consider, including room issues, dealing with noise and distractions, tips for effective group work, methods of engaging students, and using the technology. (External link)
  • A paper in the Journal of Engineering Education examines the evidence for the effectiveness of active learning. It defines the common forms of active learning most relevant for engineering faculty and critically examines the core element of each method. Author Michael Prince finds that there is broad but uneven support for the core elements of active, collaborative, cooperative and problem-based learning. (Prince, 2004) (PDF)

Group work

  • The University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching provides a wide range of resources on their website related to cooperative learning, group work, and teamwork including websites, articles, and bibliographies. (External link)
  • Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning. The Cooperative Learning Institute website provides information about types of cooperative learning, the basic elements of cooperation, and related literature. (External link)
  • A paper in To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development provides readers with guidance for designing effective group assignments and activities for classes and workshops. (Michaelsen, Fink, & Knight, 1997) (PDF)
  • Chapter One from a series of articles on (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) explores theories, methods, and examples of transforming classrooms into communities. (External link)

Inclusive teaching

  • This handout provides guidelines for planning and facilitating discussions. This resource was produced for the CTL’s Inclusive Teaching Forum, and may be especially helpful for guiding discussions on sensitive topics. (PDF)
  • This handout provides a glossary of key terms related to inclusive teaching. This is a living document of terms pertinent to discussion of inclusive teaching practices, along with a few targeted suggestions for learning more. A fuller and revised version of this glossary will be part of CTL’s Guide to Inclusive Teaching and Learning at Columbia. (PDF)
  • This handout presents seven principles of learning, based on the book How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. This handout was produced for CTL’s Inclusive Teaching Forum featuring How Learning Works author Dr. Michele DiPietro. Additional information on the principles of learning is available online through the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon. (PDF)
  • This video is recording of the plenary session presentation by Dr. Michele DiPietro on creating inclusive learning environments. Dr. Pietro was the featured guest at the CTL’s Inclusive Teaching Forum on February 26, 2016. (External link)

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