Active Learning Workshops in Large Classes

January 31, 2:30 - 3:30 PM
B400, Killam Library

PresenterSean MacKinnon, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Much educational research demonstrates the benefits of active learning in the classroom. However, large classrooms create unique barriers to implementing such techniques: (a) a large student-teacher ratio; (b) inadequate access to computing resources (e.g., computer labs) during class hours; (c) large variability in student ability; and (d) logistical problems with scheduling make-up sessions. This workshop will discuss ways to incorporate active learning techniques into large classrooms, despite these barriers.

The session will begin with a short overview of how some lecture classes can be replaced with “large-scale workshops,” using an introductory statistics class of ~230 students (PSYO 2501) as a case study. These workshops involve collaborative problem-solving, guided support from the instructor and TAs as needed, and automated quizzes for assessment. After this description, participants will engage in a short active learning activity as a demonstration of how the technique might be applied. The session will conclude with discussion and brainstorming of how similar techniques might be adapted to teach large classes in other disciplines. 

An electronic device with access to the Internet (e.g., a laptop, tablet, or smartphone) is recommended to get the most out of this workshop.

Duration: 1 hour.