Teaching Tips

 

5 Quick Tips for Teaching Success in the Collaborative Classroom

 

   Tip 1 icon1. Establish community and set student expectations

 

  Tip 2 icon2. Match hands-on activities with Collaborative Classroom features

 

   3. See other Penn faculty teach

 

  Tip 4 icon4. Attend and Engage at Teaching + Tech Workshops

 

tip 5 icon   5. Browse resources and research on active learning

 

 

   1. Establish community and set student expectations

Establishing community is the first step in the Active and Collaborative Learning Framework.  Students enter the Collaborative Classroom with different expectations about how learning happens. Therefore, it is helpful to explain to students the hands-on nature of their work in this environment and to and help them develop initial comfort with it.

Try this:

  • Let students create norms for how they prefer to work in groups (see activity).
  • Factor students' peer evaluations of team members into participation grade.
  • Do low-stakes icebreakers to build comfort. 
    • Name Game- Social Icebreaker: If possible, arrange desks or chairs into a circle. Have the first student state her name (and major, optional), the second student state his name and the first student’s name, the third student state her name and the previous two students’ names, and so on. If the class is small, do this as a whole class. If the class is large, consider forming groups of eight to twelve students so that at least subsets of students will learn each other’s names. Consider repeating this activity for a few minutes at the beginning of several class sessions, either to reinforce recall of names or to give students in larger classes a chance to learn everyone’s names.
      • Adapted from: Barkley, Elizabeth F., et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques : A Handbook for College Faculty, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2014
    • Syllabus-Based Icebreaker: Form groups of three to four students, ask them to introduce themselves by name and major. Identify a recorder to write on the Collaborative Classroom whiteboard, and ask students to generate a list of questions about the course. Distribute the syllabus, and ask students to read the syllabus to determine which of their questions have been answered and which have not. Ask them to note any course information that the syllabus provided but they had not thought to ask. Close with a whole-class discussion on the syllabus based on their unanswered questions and their discoveries about the course.
      • Variation : Pass out the syllabus first and ask students to read together and generate questions about the syllabus. Initiate class discussion of the syllabus by starting with these student-generated questions. This variation has the advantage of providing structure and focus to the first-day discussion.
      • Adapted from: Barkley, Elizabeth F., et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques : A Handbook for College Faculty, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2014.

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   2. Match hands-on activities with Collaborative Classroom features

Try our active learning activity bank for ideas on how to use hands-on techniques to meet your learning goals.  As you experiment, consider how the features of the room shown in the photos below can complement your activity.

See Active Learning Activity Bank

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   3. See other Penn faculty teach

Observing other faculty is a great way to gain new insights for teaching. Click the video below to see Penn Criminology professor, Dr. Emily Owens use techniques from all four phases of the Active and Collaborative Learning Framework in the Van Pelt Collaborative Classroom. Likewise, if you’re interested in doing in-person observations of faculty in the Collaborative Classroom, click the red button to contact us and arrange a session.

 

Observe Penn Faculty

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   4. Attend and Engage at Teaching + Tech Workshops

Integrate technology with your face-to-face teaching!  Engage in generative conversation with other Penn faculty with similar goals. Register for the Penn Libraries’ free  Teaching  + Tech workshops today!

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   5. Browse resources and research on active learning

Many universities across the country are exploring the endless possibilities of active learning.  Feel free to browse the following for research on active learning and more teaching ideas!

 

For questions or consultations, contact collabclass@lists.upenn.edu

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