Modeled on Purdue's IMPACT course redesign program, Elevate Fellows has been designed to help faculty practice what education research literature suggests results in measurable learning improvements.
Elevate Fellows redesign their courses to be increasingly student-centered or learner-centered. At the most basic level, student-centered teaching methods shift the focus of the activity from the teacher to the learner (Felder, 2014). Student-centered teaching includes approaches such as cooperative learning, inquiry-based learning, case-based instruction, problem-based learning, peer instruction, small group learning, and varied assessments. Although there are a variety of ways to create a student-centered environment, Terry Doyle (2008) explains at its core: "Learner-centered teaching means subjecting every teaching activity (method, assignment, or assessment) to the test of a single question: 'Given the context of my students, course, and classroom, will this teaching action optimize my students' opportunity to learn?'" (p. 4). Elevate Fellows helps faculty reflect on their teaching actions and explore new ideas.
Active learning techniques are essential components to a student-centered learning environment. Active learning "provides increased structure, feedback and interaction, prompting students to become participants in constructing their own knowledge rather than passive recipients" (Matter, 2015). In a meta-analysis of 225 studies of active learning in STEM disciplines, Freeman et al. (2014) concluded that "on average, student performance increased by just under one half a standard deviation with active learning compared with lecture" (p. 1). This increase in student performance equates to a student in the 50th percentile in a lecture class moving to 68th percentile in an active learning class, or a .3 point increase in average final grades (meaning B- to B). This outcome held across all STEM disciplines, class sizes, course types, and course levels.
Student-centered and active-learning learning environments have been connected to increased student performance and more equitable student outcomes. Faculty that employ student-centered forms of instruction report higher satisfaction and the perception of greater student engagement in their course. Elevate Fellows supports and guides instructors as they redesign their courses to be more student-centered and active.
Doyle, T. (2008). Helping students learn in a learner-centered environment: A guide to facilitating learning in higher education. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Felder, R. M. (2014). Student-centered teaching and learning. Retrieved from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Student-Centered.html
Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415.
Matter, G. (2015, September 12). Are college lectures unfair? The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com