Today@Sam Article

Navigating A Maze Of Teaching Methods

April 2, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

QEPMazearticleA curious structure has arrived on the Sam Houston State University campus to build awareness in a fun, interactive way for a new teaching approach – active learning. With a wealth of information available on teaching methods, educators can easily get lost in a maze of research data, but SHSU’s plan aims to guide them.

Moving away from a traditional, lecture-style teaching, active learning emphasizes collaboration, flexible spaces and the use of technology to engage. Across all higher education disciplines, studies show active learning improves student success. Yet, in spite of overwhelming evidence of the benefits, faculty across the country are sometimes hesitant to incorporate the new teaching method.

The obstacles educators suggest prevent adopting active learning techniques are consistent: lack of support and guidance and time to implement changes. To eliminate these barriers, the 2019-2024 Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) at SHSU provides the resources, support and motivation for faculty members to integrate the evidence-based best practice of active learning in their classrooms.

So, what’s with the mysterious structure in the center of campus? To help launch the new QEP program, an interactive maze was developed for the campus community to explore in conjunction with the program’s “rise and shine” campaign.

QEPMaze3Amanda Coleman, assistant director of marketing, says visitors can expect to find a digital media component to the maze.

“One of the elements to active learning is the use of technology to connect with others. With that in mind, we wanted to find a way to feature an interactive social media element within the maze,” Coleman said. 

Like active learning, mazes are understood through actual participation, not passive listening. Moreover, active learning works best with teamwork, just as solving a maze can be more successful (and entertaining) while collaborating with others. Similar to maze solvers, discovering their way through paths to an end goal, the QEP paves the way for SHSU faculty and students to rise and shine through innovative teaching.

According to Brian Loft, associate professor and committee chair, QEP resources are offered through several varied faculty development opportunities.

“Some initiatives are new to our campus culture, while others have shown promise in smaller settings and are now ready to be scaled up and available to all faculty,” Loft said. “Each year, up to 200 faculty members will have the opportunity to learn more about the benefits and use of active learning, which could impact every one of our almost 22,000 students.”

Designed to have a self-generating, lasting, positive impact on our students and the university, SHSU’s  QEP is well poised to prepare our graduates for tomorrow’s workforce.

If you are up for the challenge, the maze is on campus through May 11 and visitors are encouraged to use #SHSUrise.

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