October 5, 2016
Summary: The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is issuing a national Call to Action to improve STEM education through the use of active learning. (See A Call To Action)
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has announced a nationwide Active Learning Day on October 25, 2016. On this day, STEM educators at all grade levels, from K-12 through college and university, are encouraged to spend at least 10 minutes using an active learning technique in their classrooms. In addition to participation by teachers, faculty, and students in the classroom that day, Active Learning Day will also provide a launching point for educators, administrators, and students to initiate local conversations about how to provide broader support for implementation of active-learning strategies in classrooms through the school year to engage the next generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators.
What is “active learning”? OSTP in their A Call To Action provide the following examples of active learning strategies:
- Authentic scientific research or engineering or software design in the classroom to help students understand the practice of science, technology, and engineering and promote deep learning of the subject matter;
- Interactive computer activities to support students’ exposure to trial-and-error and promote deep learning;
- Discussions to encourage collaboration and idea exchange among students; and
- Writing to generate original ideas and solidify knowledge.
In the geosciences, we have excellent resources available through SERC that define and provide examples of active learning. You may want to start with the SERC Site Guide for Strengthening Your Teaching, and then explore other sections of their website, such as materials on the Starting Point page for Active Learning, and materials from a previous Active Learning Workshop and workshop on Introducing Active Learning Strategies to Large Intro Courses.
Will you take the pledge with PKAL?
Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), in partnership with the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), is asking faculty to pledge to implement advanced undergraduate STEM teaching techniques that equally promote active learning and integrate cultural responsiveness. #ActiveLearningDay will take place on Tuesday, October 25, 2016. The following information has been provided by PKAL to encourage participation:
What Am I Pledging To Do?
By signing up with PKAL, you pledge to commit to the following activities on October 25:
- Spend at least 10 minutes implementing a culturally responsive, STEM teaching strategy that promotes active learning in your classroom;
- Identify innovative ways to deepen and extend your departmental/institutional commitment to inclusive STEM higher education reform throughout the week, academic year, and beyond;
- Tell a friend! Reach out to at least one colleague (in either a STEM or non-STEM discipline), and engage in dialogue around what they can do to implement similar strategies in their classrooms; and
- (Optional) Share with others what you did on Active Learning Day by creating and uploading a two-minute video! Upload the video to YouTube and send us the link at email@example.com. PKAL will showcase your effort on STEM Central.
How Do I Sign Up?
Click on the link to complete the pledge form. Fill out the form with your name, institution’s name, and a brief sentence (50 words or less) about what activity or action you plan to undertake on Active Learning Day. That’s it.
Is There A Pledge Deadline?
The deadline to sign up for AAC&U’s Active Learning Day pledge is Tuesday, October 18, 2016.
So, will you take the pledge? What will you have your students do? Geoscientists – I encourage you to take the pledge and add our discipline voices to the collection of examples!