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Friday, December 8, 2017

Arizona Creates New Learning Environment

A college classroom with the lecturer in front addressing students seated at rows of desks may no longer be the best way to deliver a quality education. In fact, research done at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point found the lecture model is outdated for the digital natives now on campus.

To address the issue, the University of Arizona, Tucson, began investigating evidence-based learning and launched a pilot that used objective data to design courses featuring shorter lectures and class activities. The next step was a collaborative learning space (CLS), a large room with portable furniture and tabletop whiteboards that allow students to interact easily with each other.

“Faculty across campus began seeking out opportunities to teach in our CLS,” Jane Hunter, director of academic resources and special projects, wrote in a column for eCampus News. “They tried new strategies they had never been able to successfully implement. They found new joy in teaching which, in turn, ignited students with a passion for learning.”

From that first CLS, the University of Arizona now has 20, ranging in size to accommodate from 24 to 264 students. The new rooms serve 210 faculty members from 60 departments.

“I am trying new ideas in the collaborative learning space that I have never tried in my 10 years of teaching. It has been fun for me,” said Richard Harper, who teaches in the School of Government and Public Policy at Arizona. “The classroom has become a ‘partner’ in the learning process.”

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