Preparing and Supporting Faculty Teaching in Active Learning Classrooms: Best Practices and Lessons Learned/ing
Sally Heath, Michael Daly & Jeanette McDonald, Wilfrid Laurier University
Trends in learning space design increasingly emphasize human-centredness, a focus on active and engaged teaching and learning, and digital technologies that enhance students’ learning (Brown & Long, 2006). Active learning classrooms (ALCs) embody each of these design trends, and are increasingly being adopted in colleges and universities across North America. ALCs typically incorporate flexible seating and tables, a portable instructional console, multiple writing surfaces, select educational technologies (e.g., table designated laptops, monitors, and projection units; wireless capabilities) and interactive software (e.g., cloud applications, interactive whiteboards). The “tacit curricula” (Monahan, 2002) of ALCs foster and support a myriad of innovative pedagogies and collaborative learning experiences across disciplines (Van Horne, Murniati, Gaffney, & Jesse, 2012).
In fall 2012, Wilfrid Laurier University opened its first ALC as part of a Faculty of Arts initiative. This initiative brought together the expertise and backing of several constituent groups to design, construct, select technology, and provide training and support for the faculty and students engaged in teaching and learning in the space. Focused on the perspective of the teaching centre’s role in this project, this poster explores the professional development and support needs of faculty teaching in ALCs (e.g., administrative, pedagogical, technological, peer-to-peer), recognizing the shared role of these functions across the institution (Johnson, 2006; Sorcinelli, Austin, Eddy, & Beach, 2006). Lessons learned and best practices are reported, highlighting the need for timely, integrated training and support that is sensitive to the varied instructional experience, overall readiness, and level of commitment and risk faculty are willing to assume when teaching in an ALC.