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Active Learning Initiative. Session #1: An Overview. University of Alabama Arts and Sciences Active Learner Initiative History, Philosophy, Theory, and Methodology. Marvin E. Latimer Jr., Ph.D. Music Education Department Head University of Alabama. Active Learning Initiative.

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Session #1: An Overview

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Session 1 an overview

Active Learning Initiative

Session #1: An Overview

University of Alabama Arts and Sciences

Active Learner Initiative

History, Philosophy, Theory, and Methodology

Marvin E. Latimer Jr., Ph.D.

Music Education Department Head

University of Alabama


Session 1 an overview

Active Learning Initiative

Session #1

An Overview: History, Philosophy, Theory, and Methodology

Session #2

Learning Outcomes: Articulating our Expectations

Session #3

Promoting Active Learning: Toward Achieving Balance in the Classroom

Session #4

ALI: Documenting the Process for Departmental Accountability


Session 1 an overview

Active Learning Initiative

Who are these people and why are they saying these terrible things?

  • Patrick Frantom, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry

  • Jessica Fordham Kidd, MFA, Clinical Professor and Associate Director of First-year Writing, Department of English

  • Rebecca Johnson, Director of Instructional Technology and New Pedagogies

  • Marvin Latimer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Music Education and Head of the Department of Music Education

  • Jeffrey Melton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of American Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies

  • Darren Surman, Ph.D., FTTI, New College


Session 1 an overview

Historical Considerations

  • Impetus toward increased levels of accountability:

  • International

    • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (1998)

  • National

    • Joint Commission for Accountability Reporting (1992)

  • State

    • Accountability legislation in 44 states (2004)

  • Local

    • University of Alabama Department of Arts and Sciences Learner Centered Initiative (2004)

Leveille, D. A. (2005), An Emerging View on Accountability in American Education


Session 1 an overview

Historical Considerations

  • University of Alabama Learner Centered Initiative

  • Instituted in 2004 by Dean Olin

  • One of six A&S Initiatives

  • Dr. Joe Benson and Dr. Beverley Roscos

  • 297 participants 2005-2012

  • 2008 LCI matrices mandatory for retention

  • 2012 LCI matrices mandatory for promotion to Full Professor

  • 2013 renamed Active Learning Initiative


Session 1 an overview

Philosophical Considerations

“Our instructional culture focuses not on teaching, but on learning. Our faculty members seek not to simply deliver information but to expand student understanding through dialog, frequent feedback, and direct involvement in the subject area. Our Learner-Centered College initiative focuses on the processes by which a student gains knowledge and understanding: active involvement in the learning experience, gathering and synthesizing information, using and developing critical thinking skills, and problem solving.”

University of Alabama A&S Initiatives, http://www.as.ua.edu/home/about_as/as-initiatives/


Session 1 an overview

Theoretical Considerations

  • A Pragmatic Look at Curricula:

  • What do they know (product)?

  • What do they need to know (product)?

  • How do we get them there (process)?

  • What has been the default mode between:

    • Product oriented curricular modes

    • Process oriented curricular modes

  • Why?

Driscoll, A. & Wood, S. (2007), Outcomes-based Assessment for Learner Centered Education


Session 1 an overview

Theoretical Considerations

  • What we know about all human beings:

  • We are hard-wired to learn.

  • We evaluate all sensory experiences, which are then placed into one of two categories.

  • Threat reactions include adrenaline related

    • Fight, flee, freeze responses

  • Benefit reactions include endorphin related

    • Integration responses

Thurman, L. & Welch, G. (2000). Bodymind & Voice, Foundations of Education.


Session 1 an overview

Theoretical Considerations

  • We are born with capability/ability clusters:

  • The three umbrella capability clusters:

    • Expressive and interactive

    • Imitative

    • Exploratory and discovery

  • These structures exist in all human beings.

  • They do not need to be taught.

  • In short, we humans are hardwired to learn.

Thurman, L. & Welch, G. (2000). Bodymind & Voice, Foundations of Education.


Session 1 an overview

Theoretical Considerations

  • Research has led psychologists to suggest the following human learning dispositions:

  • We learn better in groups than individually.

  • We desire to be involved actively in decisions.

  • We attempt to connect new knowledge to current and past “real life”experiences.

  • We benefit from manipulating our environment.

  • We require multiple modes of communication.

  • We better retain knowledge from non-threatening environments.

Thurman, L. & Welch, G. (2000). Bodymind & Voice, Foundations of Education.


Session 1 an overview

Theoretical Considerations

  • Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences:

  • Logical/mathematical

  • Spatial

  • Linguistic

  • Bodily/kinesthetic

  • Musical

  • Personal (interpersonal and intrapersonal)

  • Naturalistic

  • Existential

Gardner, H. E. (1983), Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.


Session 1 an overview

Theoretical Considerations

  • David A. Kolb on experiential learning:

  • Converger

    • Strong in application of ideas

  • Diverger

    • Strong in imaginative ability

  • Assimilator

    • Ability to create theoretical models

  • Accomodator

    • Ability to be practical and solve problems

  • What are you and how do you know?

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development.


Session 1 an overview

Theoretical Considerations

  • Recent neuroscience—mapping body/brain pathways and benefits of experiential learning:

  • Emotion is the gatekeeper of learning

  • Intelligence is a function of experience

  • Personal meaning is the key to memory

  • Teachers influence input, but only students can derive meaning from sensory information.

  • Such findings support earlier learning theorists who advocate for varied delivery systems.

McGeehan J. (2001), Brain Compatible Learning


Session 1 an overview

Theoretical Considerations

An obvious assumption based on these and other findings would be that teachers should structure the design of learning objectives, presentation of material, and assessment of outcomes in a way that engages a broad range of human learning dispositions, intelligences, brain pathways, and learning styles.

Driscoll, A. & Wood, S. (2007), Outcomes-based Assessment for Learner Centered Education


Session 1 an overview

Methodological Considerations

In the United States, and all over the world for that matter, in spite of opportunities for innovation by changing technology and educational research, decadesof surveys suggest remarkably little change among colleges and universities in the dominant use of lecture as the primary teaching method and objective summative assessment as the primary tool for student evaluation.

Bligh, D. A. (2000), What’s the Use of Lectures.


Session 1 an overview

Methodological Considerations

  • The lecture method is effective for transmitting information. However, it is ineffective for:

  • Changing attitudes about a subject

  • Teaching values associated with a subject

  • Inspiring interest in a subject

  • Promoting thought about a subject

  • Teaching various behaviors such as:

    • Writing skills

    • Verbal skills

    • Use of technology

    • Interpersonal skills

    • What else?

Bligh, D. A. (2000), What’s the Use of Lectures.


Session 1 an overview

Methodological Considerations

  • There are many instructional methods. Some are as follows:

  • Lecture

  • Lecture/discussion

  • Demonstration

  • Simulation

  • Collaborative/cooperative learning

  • Case study investigation

  • Role playing

  • Inquiry learning

  • Debate

  • Others?

Driscoll, A. & Wood, S. (2007), Outcomes-based Assessment for Learner Centered Education


Session 1 an overview

Methodological Considerations

  • The instructional model will necessarily govern the assessment technique:

  • Formative Assessment

    • Ongoing assessment that provides information about progress, misunderstandings, and need for clarification (p. 86).

  • Summative Assessment

    • The final process that follows the sequence of teaching and learning (p. 88).

Driscoll, A. & Wood, S. (2007), Outcomes-based Assessment for Learner Centered Education


Session 1 an overview

Philosophical Considerations

“Our instructional culture acknowledges the varied processes by which students gain knowledge and encourages active involvement in the learning process. Our faculty members seek not to simply deliver information but to expand student understanding through dialog, frequent feedback, and direct involvement in the subject area. Our active learning initiative provides resources--workshops, technology, peer support, and outreach efforts--to help faculty build learning environments that strengthen the capacity of students to gather and synthesize information and develop robust critical thinking skills.”

University of Alabama Arts and Sciences Active Learning Initiative, (URL Here)


Session 1 an overview

Group Discussion

  • What is my role as teacher?

  • What is the role of my students?

  • What part of my class fits a particular instructional method?

  • What is the percentage of my class devoted to each specific instructional method?

  • What concepts in my course(s) currently are not being addressed as well as they could be?

  • Could my students benefit from a more varied approach to instruction and assessment?

  • What attributes of my class inhibit my ability to use more diverse instructional methods?


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