Kumar and Lightner Interactive Games 55professors, then these opposing attitudes maypredetermine some of their pedagogical choices andstrategies.Our experiences suggest that the corporate trainingmodel of active learning is quite different from theinstructional practices of college professors. Teachingand learning conferences present many active learninginnovations, and the field of scholarship of teaching andlearning embraces the concept of active learning.However, a focus on active learning is still not standardpractice in many college classrooms (Bok, 2005) andthe movement away from traditional liberal educationtoward corporate practice brings concern to many (e.g.,Lomas, 1997).
The goals of college instruction and corporatetraining differ in some ways: building knowledgeversus skill, assessing learning versus job return oninvestment, and creating better citizens versus betteremployees. Nonetheless, the main goals of trainers andcollege instructors overlap: creating lifelong learners,changing behaviors, and creating learning that can beapplied beyond the immediate classroom. By ignoringthe move toward active learning, academia misses anopportunity to increase student learning and ourstudents are less prepared for this kind of learning whenthey encounter it later in their careers. Shared lessonsfrom academia and corporate training could form a baseof research that investigates if, how, and under whatconditions, active learning techniques enhance studentlearning. This study is a first step in this direction.In an attempt to better understand the differencesbetween the corporate training classroom and thecollege classroom, this study compares the classroomtechniques of college instructors and corporate trainersand assesses the effectiveness of games as an activelearning classroom technique to engage learners. Wesurveyed members of both groups about theirinstructional style, the factors influencing their styleand the amount of time spent lecturing. In a secondpart of the study, five college professors volunteered toreplace a section of traditional lecture with aninteractive classroom exercise. Their experiences, andtheir students’ reactions, inform discussion on thebenefits and the limitations of the active learningapproach.Method
For the survey study, 62 instructors from a 2-yearregional campus of a state college/universityparticipated along with a convenience sample of 45corporate trainers from companies both big and small,including an airline, a paper company, and an HRconsulting organization. Additionally, five collegefaculty members from different disciplines (Math,Psychology, English, Arts & Visual Communication,and Nursing) volunteered to replace a section of lecturein their classrooms with a new interactive game.Afterwards, the five instructors and their students (
=68) offered their perceptions of the new technique.
The 10-minute questionnaire was completedanonymously for no compensation (See Appendix).Participants, college instructors and corporate trainers,were asked to:
Check the frequency with which they use avariety of classroom methods on a Likert Scaleranging from 1 (
) to 5 (
). Themethods included visual presentation stimuli,activities (e.g., PowerPoint, CDs, Films), groupactivities (e.g., mock debates, case studies, roleplay, peer review, games), or other techniques(e.g., props, music, guest speakers, field trips,flip charting responses).
Estimate the proportion of a typical class thatthey spent speaking and lecturing.
Rate the impact of a variety of factors on theirclassroom skills, including: temperament/ personality, instructor models, formal training,workshops, peers, mentoring, and trial anderror.
Describe an innovative technique that they usein the classroom
Indicate their years of experience in training orteaching.Trainer and professor responses to the survey werecompared using analysis of variance (one-wayANOVA).
Introducing a New Game
Five faculty members volunteered to work withthe researchers to develop new games that wouldreplace traditional lectures in their courses. The gamesinvolved activities such as group crossword puzzles,word scrambles, and team concept matches. Afterconducting the game and assessing student learning,faculty completed interviews on their experiences.These interviews were 20 to 30 minutes long andconsisted of a standard set of questions including:
Describe previous active learning techniquesthat you’ve used.”
“How did the game impact your classroom?”
(With prompts for interaction, performance,engagement, and retention.)