Our move to four-hour classes a decade ago enabled us to fundamentally change our curriculum and the academic challenge we placed before our students. Our national recognition as a leader in engaged learning demonstrates how successful we have been in this change.
In the presentations on this site, we see pedagogical techniques (simulations, writing to learn, electronic discussions, case studies) that promote active and engaged learning. We also see students apply what they have learned to authentic problems in the classroom, laboratory, campus, and wider community. In some of these, students grapple with community based problems. In others, students engage in mentored research. In all these innovations, we see students actively involved in their own learning.
These opportunities help prepare students for life after college. With faculty mentoring and guided participation, students have opportunities to develop independent thinking and problem solving abilities to help face future challenges, both personal and professional. Students come to see themselves as creators of knowledge, finding a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from working through complex and often messy experiences.
Our faculty have created a variety of innovative ways of engaging students and inspiring learning, however challenges remain.
How can we continue to change our teaching practices to increase learning?
What teaching innovations do we want to explore?
How can we capitalize on the increasing abilities of our incoming students?
How do we respond to increasingly complex knowledge bases?
How do we help students prepare to meet the challenges they will face in their lives?
What resources are necessary in order to improve our ability to promote learning?
How do we welcome new faculty into this teaching and learning environment?
What do we need to know about current research on learning and on evaluating the effectiveness of teaching strategies?