Undergraduate Active Learning

Undergraduate Active Learning

Principal Investigator:
Project Site:
Washington University
Project Location:
Saint Louis, MO 63130
Award ID:722328
Award Date:August 1, 2007

Educational research provides strong evidence that active and collaborative learning result in a deeper and more integrated understanding of concepts, as well as significant improvement in student retention in degree programs. Engaged students remember concepts longer, enjoy the learning process more, and are more likely to continue. Collaborative learning builds important communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. In addition, active learning in the classroom provides an opportunity to teach the creative design process through discussion and critique of student work. The proposed transformation will serve as a testbed for further study and development of active learning in the context of computer science and engineering. Several forms of active learning (including inquiry-based, problem-based, and collaborative learning) will be applied and studied in partnership with educational experts. The proposed transformation will apply teaching methodology historically used in art and architecture design studios. Through an educational partnership with the College of Architecture, computer science and engineering faculty will learn these teaching techniques in order to adapt and apply them to computer science and engineering studios. Finally, the process of making the curriculum more accessible to individuals outside the discipline will result in an unprecedented carefully interwoven framework of concepts that will support novel approaches to the study of computer science and engineering. Both the transformation process and the resulting program will serve as models for other institutional transformations to active learning. Tools, teaching practices, and other artifacts developed to support the transformation will be disseminated for adoption. The modularized curriculum structure resulting from this transformation will support ongoing outreach efforts in K-12 education by enabling efficient targeted professional development for K-12 teachers.

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