Faculty Support for Active Learning

Architect rendering of a Health Sciences Education Center active learning classroomThe Health Sciences Education Center (HSEC) building exemplifies the AHC commitment to excellence in teaching and supports active learning. Within the 202,000 square foot building, HSEC will contain 14 active learning classrooms with a combined capacity of 882 students. 

This website resource was created to support faculty as they transition their teaching from traditional lectures to active learning as they begin teaching in HSEC.

What is active learning?

What is active learning?

Active learning occurs when students are actively engaged in constructing their learning. This includes mental engagement as well as physical engagement. It is a contrast to the idea of passive learning where students receive learning from the instructor. Decades of research confirms that students taught with active learning approaches outperform those taught using traditional lecture.

What are active learning classrooms?

What are active learning classrooms?

Active learning occurs when students are actively engaged in constructing their learning. This includes mental engagement as well as physical engagement. It is a contrast to the idea of passive learning where students receive learning from the instructor. Decades of research confirms that students taught with active learning approaches outperform those taught using traditional lecture.

Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) were designed specifically to facilitate active learning. They include:

  • round tables for small groups to discuss classroom material,
  • whiteboards for students to write and draw on as they learn,
  • an open configuration that allows the instructor to easily reach and interact with every student in the room, and
  • may include technology that allows student electronic devices to be displayed to the whole room.

Studies indicate that ALCs positively impact the student learning experience and many institutions are investing in ALCs to help maximize student learning. The University of Minnesota is an internationally recognized leader in this movement. The opening of the Health Sciences Education Center with its multiple ALCs represents a milestone in the AHC commitment to creating the best possible learning environment for its students.

Is teaching different in an Active Learning Classroom?

Is teaching different in an Active Learning Classroom?

Yes. The design of the ALC encourages student interaction with each other and with the instructors. It is ideal for small group work and problem solving. It does not favor the use of lengthy lectures for teaching. Instructors who use lecture as their main teaching approach will need to include active learning as part of their everyday teaching. Luckily, there are plenty of models for effectively transitioning a course using primarily lecture to active learning. Additionally, there are resources, such as the Center for Educational Innovation< and Teaching Support @UMN that can support faculty with this process.

Support available for AHC faculty