Active Learning in Large Enrollment Classes: Learning Modules that Work

Project: Research project

Project Details


Active Learning in Large Enrollment Classes: Learning Modules that Work This collaboration between the Geosciences and Instructional Systems programs at Penn State University aims to develop mechanisms for giving students in large enrollment lecture classes, including General Education classes, the types of laboratory and field experiences which enrich student learning about the scientific method when applied to the geosciences. For these large courses, offering individual laboratory sections is logistically impractical, and this project will develop simple strategies that can be utilized within the large lecture room environment. In this project, new activities that are based on current pedagogical understanding will be implemented as part of the continuing development of the Earth 101 (Natural Disasters: Hollywood vs. Reality) class, which serves more than 3200 General Education students per year. These "lab-like" modules will be built on real data sets and societal situations that relate to actual hazards. Prototype modules, such as the Parkfield Earthquake Prediction project, that have shown good promise during preliminary testing will be expanded on and more formally evaluated for their impact on student learning and comprehension. Modules to be developed will address one of four main themes: a) quantifying patterns in space and time of natural events and rates of processes; b) coupling scientific analyses to societal impacts; c) incorporating real-time or near real-time data; and d) comparing the consequences of similar natural events in different environments based on socio-economic or cultural attributes. From this project, a suite of tested, effective active-learning modules will be produced and made available to educators at different institutions.

Effective start/end date9/1/068/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $150,000.00
  • National Science Foundation: $150,000.00


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