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Expanding Your Teaching Toolkit

As a new professor, you may not know where to start to incorporate active learning in your courses, particularly if your professors taught almost exclusively through lectures. Good news! You can start almost anywhere.

Carol Ormand's toolbox, complete with rock hammer. Photo courtesy of Carol Ormand.

Whatever you do to move your students from a passive role into an active role in the classroom improves their learning. It also helps to keep them (and you!) from getting bored, frustrated, or loosing concentration (e.g., Felder; National Research Council, 2000 ).

Furthermore, incorporating active learning strategies into your teaching need not be difficult or time-consuming. Including even a two-three minute exercise after 12-18 minutes of lecture significantly increases student understanding and retention of material (Wenzel, 1999) . Moreover, using a variety of teaching methods (to match the variety of learning styles in your classroom) is one way to demonstrate your commitment to excellence in teaching, as you prepare your case for tenure. The resources below describe techniques you can use, and include hundreds of geoscience-related examples of classroom activities.

Active learning methodologies

Ease into using active learning methods by spicing up your lectures with one or more of the following, from the Starting Point collection of Teaching Methods. (The Starting Point website is a collection of resources for teaching entry level geoscience courses, but these resources are useful for teaching at any level.)

Search for active learning exercises in the geosciences


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