Active Learning Strategies For Large Geoscience Classes

Thursday 1:30pm-1:50pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Teaching Demonstration

Session Chair

John Knox, University of Georgia


We'll do, within the time constraints of 20 minutes, about three different actual exercises. The participants will act as students, and will get up, move around, role-play, meet others, and in general *not* fall asleep listening to one more person lecture passively about good teaching methods.


Many earth science educators are confronted with the academic/economic reality of large introductory lecture classes. Is there any way to avoid the trap of passive lecturing in these large classes? In this demonstration, we will actively participate in a few of the exercises that I have designed and implemented in my Introduction to Weather and Climate and Introduction to Physical Geography courses at the University of Georgia. These exercises have the notable feature of working better with larger class sizes and rooms than with smaller classes and more intimate rooms. As time permits, we will discuss the intent of each exercise, then do it, and then critique each exercise. I will provide additional examples as well. The primary intended outcome is to stimulate demonstration participants' thinking regarding what they can do to innovate in their own large introductory earth science classes.


The exercises demonstrated are those that I use every fall semester in my Introduction to Weather and Climate and Introduction to Physical Geography classes.

Why It Works

Most instructors think that passive lecturing is the primary way to go with large classes, and that active learning strategies are best with smaller classes. My activities are just the opposite.


Presentation Media

PowerPoint for Knox Active Learning Strategies Presentation (PowerPoint 4.6MB Jul20 16)