Thursday, March 26, 2015

Active Learning Activities - Jean Pratt, Information Systems

Setting: Diagramming activity utilizing pod groups (8 pods with 3-4 students per pod), whiteboards, and reporting out to the whole class

Setup for the activity: Students were instructed to work through some similar diagramming activities in a PowerPoint slide deck prior to coming to class. We had worked through a similar activity in class in the preceding class period. One purpose of this activity was to emphasize the value and efficiency of sketching out ideas on a whiteboard before trying to use a computer-aided design tool to create a diagram. A second purpose of this activity was to give students more practice in applying the concepts and skills.

How the activity unfolded in the classroom: Student groups gathered around each whiteboard (located at the pods) and discussed various options for diagramming a relational database. I moved from one pod to another using Socratic questioning and mini-lectures as the student groups worked through the diagramming activity. I used the doc cam to zoom in on students' work at the whiteboards to facilitate class discussion of concepts.

After the activity: At the end of the class period, students groups were directed to apply the same diagramming techniques to their 15-week client project. They were provided about 10 minutes to get started on this activity, which they would continue outside class.

Additional comments from instructor: "Student feedback indicated that students were at first a bit embarrassed about having their group work displayed and discussed but they were becoming more comfortable with it because a) they were learning from the whole-class discussion, b) they prefer to focus on the concepts before trying to implement the concepts using a computer tool, c) they prefer to be corrected in an ungraded venue rather than via graded homework, d) they value the individual group/pod attention before the class discussion, and e) they see other groups erasing and revising white-board content as we discuss errors as a full class (i.e., they realize that other groups are making the same errors)."

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