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How To Engage Students in Active Learning

Robert W. Schwartz
Materials Science & Engineering University of Missouri-Rolla

Materials Science & Engineering

Effective Teaching Methods
The key points Learning styles

Active Learning
What is it? Why do it? Methods and how to do it Examples

Summary, Resources, and Advice

Materials Science & Engineering

Aspects to Effective Teaching

Thoroughly prepare Time management (course may not be perfect the first time)

Make some time to utilize resources

Formal programs Mentorship (learn from effective teachers; also Mentornet) E&T Funds Many others Blooms Taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, evaluation) Educational objectives (specific measurable outcomes) Learning styles Techniques for problem solving Newer philosophy more focus in class toward concepts; problem solving remains focus for homework

Know something about how students learn

Figure out what works for you

Not every method will work for every person

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Active Learning and Learning Styles

Index of Learning Styles Myers-Briggs and others
Sample Question: I understand something better after I: a. Try it out b. Think it through

Learning Style: Active processing Teaching Style:

Student Participation Typical instructional strategy: Variety of techniques to address learning style differences NETI, 1998

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What is Active Learning?

Active learning
Activities that engage students in doing something besides listening to a lecture and taking notes to help them learn and apply course material Students may be talking or listening to one another, writing, reading, or reflecting individually

Collaborative learning
Subset of active learning Engage students in interacting with one another

Cooperative learning
Subset of collaborative learning involving students interacting with one another under certain conditions (more structured activities) NETI, 1998

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Why Active Learning?

Confucius (400 BC): What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand. Silberman (1996): What I hear, I forget. What I hear and see, I remember a little. What I hear, see, and ask questions about or discuss with someone else, I begin to understand. What I hear, see, discuss and do, I acquire knowledge and skill. What I teach to another, I master.
Silberman (Active Learning; 1996)

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Why Active Learning? Seeing and Hearing is Not Enough

Brain does not function as audio or visual tape recorder.
Incoming information is being processed; i.e., the brain is asking questions:
Have I heard or seen this information before? Where does this information fit in? What can I do with it? Can I assume that this is the same idea that I had yesterday or last month?

Active classrooms give opportunities for information to be better processed

Silberman (Active Learning; 1996)

Materials Science & Engineering

Leaning Improved when Students Asked to do Something with the Information Partner discussions up to two letter grade improvement State the information in their own words Give examples of it Recognize it in various guises and circumstances See connections between it and other ideas Make use of it in various ways
Silberman (Active Learning; 1996)

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Ten Methods to Get Participation

Open Discussion not simply Are there any questions? Response Cards answers to posed questions on submitted index cards (more anonymity) 3. Polling a short survey that is passed out and tallied to focus discussion 4. Subgroup Discussions share and record information; develop questions and promote further consideration 5. Learning Partners work on tasks or discuss key questions with the student next to them 6. Whips go around group and obtain short answers to key questions 7. Panels small group of students may present views in front of entire class 8. Fishbowl discussion circle with remainder of class listening in. 9. Games Family Feud, Jeopardy, Millionaire 10. Calling on the Next Speaker student view sharing and calling on next student 1. 2. Silberman (Active Learning; 1996)

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Informal Cooperative Learning Structures In Class (Problem Solving) Teams

Get together teams of 2 4 and choose team recorder
Can use birthdays, locations, other to pick teams or recorder

Give teams 30 seconds to 5 minutes to:

Recall prior material Answer a question Start a problem solution Work out the next step in a derivation Think of an example or application Sketch and label a flow chart (free body diagram, etc.) for this system Sketch a plot of the problem solution Give several reasons why you might need to know the solution What variations to this problem might I put on the next test? Brainstorm a question

NETI, 1998; Feldman, Chem. Eng. Educ. V. 26 (1) 18 19 (1992) Materials Science & Engineering

Informal Cooperative Learning Structures Think-Pair-Share

Students think of answers individually Students then form pairs to produce joint answers

Students share answers with class

Option: Two (or more) pairs may share answers with each other before sharing with class

NETI, 1998

Materials Science & Engineering

Informal Cooperative Learning Structures Note Taking Pairs

Students form pairs to work together during class
After short lecture segment, one partner summarizes notes for the other partner Second partner adds information or corrects

Goal: For everyone to improve his or her notes

NETI, 1998

Materials Science & Engineering

Other Informal CL Structures

Guided Reciprocal Peer Questioning
Student provided generic question stems (e.g., What is the difference between . and Each student prepares questions using stems Each student takes turns asking questions

TAPPS (Thinking Aloud Pair Problem Solving)

Students form pairs Instructor defines activity Problem solver talks through first part of solution; listener questions and prompts Reverse roles
NETI, 1998

Materials Science & Engineering

Implementing Informal CL
Have students form in groups of 2 4 where they are sitting

Assign crucial roles (note taker, time keeper)

Explain the task
For more complicated task, use overhead

For longer exercises, circulate about the room, listening and giving hints

Remember the value of variety

NETI, 1998

Materials Science & Engineering

Formal Cooperative Learning

Team homework
Team projects
Student prepared tests

Teams comprised of expert groups

Pairs Testing
Results seem positive

Materials Science & Engineering

Ex. 1: Subgroup Discussion First Class in Crystallography

Instructional Objectives
At the conclusion of this lecture, the student will be able to: Describe in general terms to a friend, what is meant by the term growth morphology. Recognize general characteristics of two different crystal classes

Lecture prior to exercise

Preface exercise with questions to class about what is a crystal and additional discussion regarding relationship between atomic and macroscopic properties

Active Learning Exercise

Instructions Split up into groups of four and identified three different crystal stations for each group to visit Spend 5 minutes per station noting observations about characteristics of crystals that they observed at each station Reconvene in class room in 15 minutes prepared to share their observations with the class

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Ex. 1: Crystallography Exercise (cont.)

Concepts introduced by discussion
Morphology shape of cubic (fluorite) and trigonal (quartz) Relationship between atomic arrangement of species and macroscopic behavior Others Definition of a crystal Polycrystalline nature of materials Oriented growth of materials Fracture planes

Other aspects of discussion

Real world examples: diamonds (rings) Stick and ball atomic models of two crystals

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Ex. 2 Learning Partners; Game The Periodic Table

Instructional Objectives
At the conclusion of this lecture, the student will be able to: Describe the electronic configuration of atoms and ions

Lecture prior to exercise

None; used to introduce topic

Active Learning Exercise

Match the Dude and the Date with the Scientific Contribution Handout given to each student Students assigned to work in teams of two (variety) Class reconvenes to compare answers

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Ex. 2 The Periodic Table (cont.)

Basic layout is a one page handout with the statement of the contributions and fill-in-the-blank lines

Sample statement from five question form:

The world is made up of tiny indivisible particles called atomos meaning indivisible. Early speculation from Greek philosophers about the fundamental stuff that makes up the world. Dudes: Bohr, Dalton, Democritis, Rutherford, Schrodinger Dates: 400 BC, 1807, 1910, 1914, 1926

Other aspects
Handout lists accomplishment in chronological order; serves as summary of information Used to lead into lecture/discussion of atomic structure More information related to above structure presented Used to introduce handouts on orbital shape and size Goal: engage student and have a little fun while learning

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Ex. 3 In-Class Reflection Unit Cell, Bravais Lattice and Basis

Instructional Objectives
At the conclusion of this section of the course, the student will be able to: Define crystal structure, Bravais lattice, and basis. Name and draw the 7 crystal systems and the 14 Bravais lattices Use Bravais lattice and basis vectors to describe the spatial relationship of a lattice point to the origin of the lattice.
Discussion of unit cells Significant coverage of each of the Bravais lattice and basis concepts Introduction of all of the 7 crystal systems and 14 BL Consideration of vectors and origin choice for unit cell Practice exercise on drawing the unit cells of Pt and NaCl Exercise passed out to students with instruction that they are to provide input for teacher to fill in blanks and complete drawings

Lecture prior to Exercise

Active Learning Exercise

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Ex. 3 Unit Cell, Bravais Lattice and Basis (cont.)

Materials Science & Engineering

Ex. 3 Unit Cell, Bravais Lattice and Basis (cont.)

Other aspects
Worked as an instructor-led exercise via transparency; student input requested at each step of the process Other approaches possible (e.g., instructor worked) Later exercises can build upon earlier exercises Example:
Practice 3 tells you that the crystal structure = Bravais Lattice plus Basis Practice 5 asks you for the data that you need

Template for unit cell allows students to concentrate on class participation Faster students can charge ahead if they want Extra copies of handout

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Ex. 4 Subgroup Discussion Internal Boundary Layer Capacitors

Educational objective: develop higher level learning skills Senior course (CER 284) on Properties of Electronic Ceramics Technical focus:
Microstructure effects on IBLC performance Microstructure consists of insulating grain boundaries and semiconducting grains

Lecture prior to exercise

Polarization mechanisms in dielectrics Dielectric constant calculations for parallel plate capacitors

Active Learning Exercise

30 minutes in groups; 20 minutes discussion Develop processing strategies to achieve the desired microstructure Develop a simple mathematical description of how you feel microstructural properties (grain boundary thickness and grain size) could be controlled to maximize the dielectric constant of the composite

Materials Science & Engineering

Ex. 5 In Class Reflection The One Minute Paper

At the end of class
Student takes out a piece of paper (no name) Students are instructed to answer the following question(s): What is the most important topic that we covered today and why? Of the topics that we covered today (or this week), which topic do you think you understand the best? Which topic do you feel you understand the least or find most confusing? What would make this material clearer to you? Make up a question about an everyday phenomenon that can be explained using material presented in class today. You may also ask them additional questions such as: The pace of the course is: too fast, about right, too slow In terms of teaching methods, the most effective for me has been: __________________ In terms of teaching methods, the least effective for me has been: __________________

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Active Learning Exercises Personal Lessons

When tasking teams, instructions need to be explicit.
Identify clear ties between the task and instructional objectives. Make sure the active learning exercise will require (only) the amount of time allotted. Make sure the task is pitched at the correct level (sophomore, junior, senior, graduate). Consider using active learning exercises that build on material in pre-requisite courses. Some resistance to active learning
Just tell me the minimum I need to do Buy-in to individual, pair, and team exercises is highly dependent on the particular class. Success with all levels of students; just need to find correct active learning exercises

Materials Science & Engineering

New Spins on Effective Teaching

Concept Learning/Peer Instruction Eric Mazur
Reading assignments Reading quizzes (completion not understanding) Concept tests Focus on concepts and application of topical material Individuals report answers Compare answers Revisit correct answer Lecture is focused on points that are unclear

The Clicker Classroom

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Things that Have Been Important to Me in Teaching

Instructional objectives
Pass out to students for each test Still need to review before examination (examples on next slide)

Test review sessions Organization Use of active learning approaches Always clarify why you are covering a topic Availability outside of class Fairness to the individual and to the class as a whole Make notes (at the time) of what works or doesnt ; where the course needs improvement

Materials Science & Engineering

Instructional Objective Examples

At the end of this section of the course, the student should be able to:

State typical values for the conductivities and numbers of carriers in metals, semiconductors and insulating materials. Use basic equations for conduction to determine quantities such as resistivities and mobilities when given data such as resistance and material dimensions. State whether the observed behavior is representative of metallic or semiconducting behavior when given resistance vs. T data . Describe the basic differences between intrinsic and extrinsic conduction behavior in materials such as Si, ZrO2, and NaCl. Use Kroger-Vink notation to describe the defect chemistry of typical doped semiconductor and insulator materials when provided with a specific dopant. Be able to calculate the activation energies associated with charge transport and defect generation as well as the doping level of the material. Calculate the equilibrium coefficient associated with a particular defect reaction at a specified temperature. Plot the pO2 dependence of the defect concentrations when provided appropriate chemical equilibrium data.

Materials Science & Engineering

Other Aspects of Effective Teaching

How to get started and to be effective long term
Continuous improvement Make minor improvements each semester Set goals for each time you go through the course for what you want to address More active learning exercises Instructional objectives New homework assignments or tests Review what you have been taught Explore new information (books, web-site) Become active in organizations such as ASEE and attend meetings

Capitalize on your strengths

Figure out what works for you and what doesnt Know your own learning style Use evaluations and comments

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Still More Aspects to Effective Teaching

Effective Teaching
Develop your personal philosophy as to what is important Limit, as much as possible, the number of different courses that you teach Use your summers wisely try to obtain commitment from chair about what you will be teaching in the following fall and winter Organize your course notes During the academic year evolutionary During the summer revolutionary

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Resources Many Places to Seek Help

Websites (Felder; NCSU) _engineering Many universities have course notes on-line (copyright) Books and print Silberman, Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject Wankat and Oreovicz, Teaching Engineering Educational journals Workshops National Effective Teaching Institute (ASEE Sponsored) New Faculty Teaching Scholars Program ASEE Discipline Specific Activities (IEEE, ACerS, others) Networking at technical meetings

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Silberman Book Lots of Great Stuff

Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject Classroom arrangement Team building strategies Immediate learning involvement strategies 101 Strategies
Lightening the learning environment to Inquiring minds want to know Ex: How does a CD burner work?

ISBN 0-205-17866-9
Materials Science & Engineering

Final Advice
Remember why youre here: students and scholarship Enjoy your relationships with your colleagues and students Remember what you represent to the students Look for balance in teaching, research and service (see below) Stay organized! Only way to effectively multi-task for a long time period Find an approach to stay organized that works for you Strive for time management and recognize priorities Most of us are driven; always want to say yes Need to say no. If you place limits on what you promise, you will be able to make time to fulfill the commitments that you make Other thoughts 2nd time through and Askeland comments If you strive for perfection and miss, you may still hit excellence. Tommy Bowden, Head Football Coach, Clemson University

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Im not just supposed to preach this stuff, Im supposed to live it. All youre supposed to do is your best. Some best. Best is best.

There will be times when, despite your best efforts, you havent come up to your own standards. Always try to do the best that you can, but dont be too hard on yourself when you havent done as well as you liked.

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Final Advice Manage Your Time

Colloidal gold nano-particles

C. H. Liu, UIUC

Work hard, but dont forget to have some fun along the way too!
Materials Science & Engineering