Apr. 22, 2016

Active Learning Center Classroom with movable chairs and desks
Image Credit: Steelcase Education

St. Edward’s University will install an active learning classroom through the Active Learning Center (ALC) program, a grant funded by Steelcase Education.

By summer, Room 206 in the John Brooks Williams Natural Science Center–North will have adjustable wheeled chairs and desks designed to foster collaboration and working in small groups. Active learning classrooms, "contribute to higher engagement, the expectation of better grades, more motivation and more creativity, when compared to traditional row-by-row seating," according to Steelcase research. 

Tricia Shepherd, professor and Chair of the Chemistry department, says she’s looking forward to teaching in a classroom with more flexibility, where students can talk with each other and easily form groups.  

“When tables are too big, students pair off and work with their neighbor. It’s crazy how much a table can influence group work, and the more we make it feel like that’s what they should be doing, the more they will,” Shepherd says.

The chemistry classroom also will support a POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) teaching method which focuses on problem solving instead of memorization. For optimal implementation of the POGIL method, flexible classroom furniture will encourage student teamwork and collaboration. 

“St. Edward’s University was chosen for its commitment to utilizing progressive instruction and active learning strategies that truly impact student engagement,” says Craig Wilson, director of Market Development, Steelcase Education. “Professors and students at St. Edward’s will now be able to utilize a flexible learning space and explore the capabilities of an environment built specifically for improved engagement and collaboration.” 

St. Edward's was one of six higher education institutions selected to receive the grant. 

“We are honored to be recognized by the Active Learning Center grant,” says Gary A. Morris, dean of Natural Sciences and professor of Physics. “The Steelcase approach to education resonates with our own: student learning outcomes are positively impacted by engaged, active learning instruction." 

About Steelcase Education

As lifelong learners, Steelcase Education aims to make a difference in education. For students, educators and designers, the organization creates the most effective, rewarding and inspiring learning spaces. As a dedicated group within Steelcase exclusively focused on education, it brings evidence-based design, technology and innovative solutions to education environments, wherever learning happens.