In Higher Ed we are constantly trying to find ways to help students be successful while also trying to increase enrollment and retention. With budget and time constraints it can be difficult for universities and professors to achieve these goals. Universities are trying to tackle these problems with what may seem like unconventional approaches.
An article from Inside Higher Ed chronicles the efforts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to break the “Iron Triangle”. The triangle they are referring to is the balance of quality, cost, and access. It often seems that one of the three parts of the triangle has to be sacrificed. UNC Greensboro is challenging that assertion with a project they have been running the past two years called CRAFT.
CRAFT is short for create and curate Content, Replace lectures with Active, and Flipped, Team-based learning. Specifically the project focused on general education courses and courses with high rates of students withdrawing or receiving low marks. They have had positive results and found that this format allows for more students to be enrolled in the class as well.
This type of strategy certainly seems like it could help bring quality, cost, and access together without the need for one of them to sacrificed. This is Higher Ed, however, and nothing is quite as simple as it sounds. Developing these courses takes a lot of time and support. It would be asking a lot of a professor to use the CRAFT method on their own.
The bigger message of this article, however, is that you can serve more students, retain more students, and help lower achieving students be more successful with a focus on active learning. When students are actively involved in the learning process they are more likely to be successful. There is research to back this up as a report from the National Academy of Science shows. They examined 225 studies and found that 3500 more students would have passed if active learning was used in those courses. That is certainly compelling data.
It can seem daunting when considering how to start or increase active learning in your courses. The good news is that here at USFSP, OLITS is here to help. We offer trainings on active learning and can help you add active learning to your courses. Check the OLITS Professional Development website to see when upcoming trainings are available or schedule an on-demand training with us. If you want to learn more about active learning, check out this blog post by our very own Otis Wilder.