March 10, 2014

The LaSalle College Community of Practice – Active Learning for Everyone

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Five teachers from LaSalle College (Montreal) have formed a Community of Practice on Active Learning to facilitate the establishment of a learning environment to foster the implementation of this pedagogical approach. In active learning, the teacher becomes a facilitator of the content in order to develop students’ abilities. As a result, students are more involved in their own learning process. Because this is a student-centered approach, collaboration and active participation from everyone, both student and teacher, are the keys to success.

The group’s goals in adopting active learning are :

  • Increase student motivation through learning activities that promote independent learning and higher thinking skills.
  • Provide an opportunity for students to take a hands-on approach to their learning and encourage them to take risks.
  • Encourage students to think about their learning process.

The group has decided to meet five times during the winter 2014 semester, and participating teachers have proposed five subjects that they would like to discuss in relation to Active Learning. Thus, each 90-minute meeting will be dedicated to one subject. Each member has chosen a subject that they are interested in and will present their findings to their peers. The presenters have drawn a lot of their expertise from participation in continuing education programs offered by the IT Partners such as Performa’s Masters in College Teaching, APOP courses and webinars and the AQPCCCDMD One-Day Conference held on January 10, 2014 on teaching strategies that improve student learning, which some presenters attended. Profweb readers might recognize two familiar names among the presenters. Both Heather Sorella and Johnathan Mina are Profweb authors.

At every meeting, one teacher will conduct a 45-minute presentation or activity on their subject, and another period of 45 minutes will be allocated for related discussions on this particular topic. As suits the bilingual nature of LaSalle, the presentations are in either English or French, and comments are made in either language as well. Meetings are informal brown bag lunch affairs held from 11:30 AM to 1 PM at the school. All the teachers at LaSalle College are officially invited to all five meetings should they wish to participate. The response from our teaching staff and administration alike has been quite encouraging to date. The schedule of themes is shown below. We plan to deal with the two topics at the end next year.

The schedule of themes

The schedule of themes

I am particularly looking forward to an evaluation meeting this May where we will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the community. It is at that time that we will make links between the various themes, find out which information presented has been tried in our classes and what effects it has had. The spirit of cooperation is alive and well at LaSalle College, and as our teachers share their expertise, the resulting team spirit is allowing our staff to embrace new technology and pedagogical approaches with a professionalism and certainty that enriches both teachers and students alike.

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