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Deep, engaged learning: a better way to approach team-based/ project based instruction

Prof Steven Yalisove | University of Michigan

Deep, engaged learning: a better way to approach team-based/ project based instruction

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It is widely recognized that lecture is not the best way to first introduce material to students. One way to address this is to have students read the text book as the first introduction to the material. This is easy to say but difficult to verify. One approach is to require that the students annotate the reading. Software developed at MIT (nb.mit.edu) permits students to read and annotate online while seeing and interacting with each other. This past year we have been using a more evolved tool called Perusall.com. Like nb.mit.edu, the students interact with each other's annotations. But, now the annotations are automatically graded. The system also provides "confusion reports" to help the instructor tailor the in-class activities to the needs of the particular cohort. This simple method allows the students to be far more focused when they come to class. They don't always understand the all of the material, but they have made an effort to do so. The students actually want to learn more about the material because they have invested time and effort. Paring this with in-class active learning activities based on the original learning objectives of your lectures builds on the well documented engaged learning process ensuring that the learning is deep and will be retained. It also eliminates the issue of syllabus pressure because the students are more than capable of learning the easier parts of the material such as definitions, easy derivations, easy examples, etc. This allows the instructor to spend the class time on the more difficult concepts and not waste time covering easy material. By folding in and formative assessment and feedback techniques, a team based learning environment will lead to deep, engaged learning.