Imagine a University without Lectures

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Research has shown that students learn better when they are actively engaged in the material than they do when they are taught by lecture (see, for example, Crouch & Mazur, 2001: http://ajp.aapt.org/resource/1/ajpias/v69/i9/p970_s1). But trying to incorporate active learning strategies can be challenging because neither faculty nor students have had much experience with teaching and learning in new ways. Furthermore, making sweeping changes in the manner that teaching and learning happens at established universities is extremely difficult.

 

So, when the University of Minnesota decided to build a new campus in Rochester, Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle took the opportunity to build a university that focused on learning, rather than memorizing (see http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/tomorrows-college/lectures/inventing-new-college.html ). According to Lehmkuhle, the goal of education is not the pursuit of knowledge in distinct disciplines; rather, it is the acquisition of skills needed to succeed in a world where knowledge is constantly changing. Research indicates that the key to learning is motivation. The University of Minnesota Rochester is built around the idea that students are motivated to learn when they can make connections.

 

So......at UMR, there are no lectures. There is no "front of the room" where one authority disseminates knowledge, according to the vice chancellor, Claudia Neuhauser. There are no departments. Faculty of all disciplines work together in the Center for Learning Innovation. Courses in biology, ethics and writing (for example) are connected. Tenure and promotion require faculty to do research on student learning. Can you imagine that?

 

At UMR, there is no football team. But there *is* a competitive ballroom dancing team.


If I could start my education over again, I'd apply to UMR!

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Same here, Suzanne, I'd like to be a guinea pig too! This is a college rewired from the core.

Appears to be a great model. It reminds me of "Quest to Learn" (http://q2l.org/), a public school in New York that uses the notion of play and gaming to create its curriculum.

Both of these examples show some very innovative thinking and risk taking by leadership. I hope that they can both assess their programs and show the value the approach adds.

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