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Now That’s Classroom Participation

How Active Learning Classrooms Can Transform Your Education

By Senior Kelsey Chase | Photo by Luke Rutan

Think you’re doomed to classes in dark lecture halls and quirky wrap-around chairs with desks? Think again. Seattle Pacific University boasts dozens of “Active Learning Classrooms” that are proven to help you learn better.

Moveable tables make group projects and discussion a breeze, and in several rooms students can connect their laptops to large screens positioned around the room. And did we mention you are encouraged to write on the walls? That’s right — whiteboard walls are the perfect space for brainstorming ideas, drawing graphs, and solving problems.

Here’s a look inside Cremona 101.

Active learning classroom

 1.  National studies show that students learn 30 percent of concepts taught in traditional lectures. That number jumps to 48 or 49 percent when using active learning strategies.

 2.  Screens mounted on the walls display the professor’s lecture notes, or a student presentation. Visual communications students share their designs this way, English students analyze poems, and business students track the national debt clock.

 3.  See, we told you our students write on the walls! Dry erase markers are a must-have in active learning classrooms.

 4.  Assistant Professor of Economics Geri Mason loves active learning classrooms for the discussion and camaraderie they create. She encourages table groups to choose their own names, such as “Fast and Furious” or “The Chosen Ones.”

 5.  Students use the four whiteboard walls for everything from lists to languages and physics to philosophy. The hardest part is remembering to erase.

 6.  A large projector screen at the front of the classroom is visible from all angles, so there’s no craning your neck to see the board.

 7.  When you spend 10 weeks together, it’s inevitable you make some good friends! Small groups also mean fewer opportunities for just a few students to dominate conversation, which professors say leads to greater learning.

 8.  An active learning classroom is not a place to slink into the background, so bring your coffee if you need a little extra energy.

 9.  Aren’t smartphones prohibited in class? Not in Geri Mason’s macroeconomics course, where students use their phones to participate in texting polls about their spending habits.

 10.  Still taking notes by hand? Studies show that students who handwrite rather than type their notes remember lectures better and perform stronger on exams.