Academic Leadership Journal


Past research examining the effects of lectures on student learning suggests that they limit interactions in the classroom, place the responsibility for learning solely with the instructor, and do not provide an environment that compliments a range of learning styles (Silverthorn 1998; Landis et al. 1998; Aboudan 2009). Fortunately, there are many different active learning techniques such as role playing and group activities to more directly engage students and develop their ability to synthesize information, communicate clearly, and adapt to changing knowledge (e.g. Mason 2005; Colley 2008; Cornelius- White 2007). In this paper, we share our experiences implementing active learning practices in our science classes at Michigan State University (a 300-level Soil Biology class with ~30 students) and at the University of Colorado (200-level Plants and Society course and 400-level Public Lands and Ecosystem Management course with ~25 students). Our faculty positions are predominantly in research and we had little prior training in teaching at the undergraduate level before obtaining our tenure track positions but we share a strong commitment to student-led and active learning models of teaching.