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June 13, 2019 – Twenty-three educators from the University of Wyoming and three Wyoming community colleges completed intensive active learning training last week at Sheridan College. This Summer Institute is the kick-off event for a yearlong, immersive program facilitated by the Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP), one of the Science Initiative's signature programs.
The theme for the Summer Institute was Transformative Learning and educators engaged in mock active learning sessions so that they could experience Team-based Learning (TBL) and other forms of active learning in an authentic way. On the final evaluation, one educator commented, " Everything that was talked about was also demonstrated. It would have been one thing to tell us about team based learning, but you showed us how by getting us involved in an actual TBL activity."
Amongst the group of 23 educators were 16 instructors from four University of Wyoming Colleges: Arts & Sciences, Health Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources and Engineering. These participants were joined by six community college colleagues from LCCC, NWC and Sheridan College.
In addition to learning effective ways to implement active learning into their classes, Summer Institute participants also learned about the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) which is the practice of systematically studying the effectiveness of active learning strategies implemented in classrooms. On the final anonymous survey, one participant commented:
... I have to say that I feel really energized and ready to rock teaching next semester. My engagement with and sense that I've benefited from this seminar is several times higher than the best seminar I've attended in the past. I'm SOLD on SoTL; I feel like I've found a home I've been looking for. Yes, this sounds super enthusiastic (and therefore suspicious). But, I'm feeling it for realz.
Thank you. I cannot thank you enough. You all created a space that made it safe and possible for me to go through this big personal transition re. teacherly excitement.
LAMP director Rachel Watson commented, "Transformative learning is defined as changing the very essence of what we know. It is important that we facilitate transformative learning for our state-wide educators because changing from traditional passive (lecture) methods to evidence-based, active learning practices requires a fundamental change in how we teach. In order to facilitate transformative learning for educators and encourage them to seek this for their students as well, we engaged them in reflective dialogue every day. This is an essential element of deeply internalizing the learning that we have done."
On the parting comment section of the evaluation, one participant offered, " Thank you, Rachel and everyone else for creating a transformative week!"
External and internal mentors facilitated the reflective dialogue and offered subject-matter expertise. External mentors were Ferlin McGaskey, assistant Director of the University of Tennessee (UT) Teaching and Learning Center, and Lisa Murray, Marketing Assistant Department Head at the UT Haslam College of Business, and Ed Nuhfer, (retired geologist and educational developer, expert in metacognition). Internal mentors included Janel Seeley, Christi Boggs and Thomas Stoudt (Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning), Michele Larson (Life Science Program faculty), Monia Haselhorst (NWC Biology Program faculty), Sridhar Budhi (EWC Chemistry Program faculty) and Jessica Sutter (Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Mentor).
"Sheridan College was an excellent venue to host our annual Summer Institute. The facilities are cutting edge and our collaborator Debi Isakson is a consummate organizer. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time in Sheridan," said Watson.