The efficacy of the active learning classroom lies on the principal that students learn while doing. There could not be a more appropriate demonstration of this then Don Gaber’s active learning activity depicted below:
Setting: 20-minute activity implemented in a 300-level course; 5 pods with 6 students per pod
Purpose of the activity: One of the course goals is to "apply procedural code and objects to solve business problems and meet business requirements." This activity has students identify multiple options available for a combo box programming object. Students must compare and contrast the options, and distinguish which option or options could provide a useful solution to a common business application problem, or meet programming project requirements.
Setup for the activity: Students complete a hands-on tutorial that includes a brief introduction to a "combo-box" control object, which you commonly see in software used to click and select various options.
When programming these objects, there are typically 20-30 properties to consider. Examples include color, size, style, autocomplete, sorting, etc.
How the activity unfolded in the classroom: One student in each group logs on to the Pod PC, and I assign each group a range of properties that begin with the following letters:
- Pod 1: a-b
- Pod 2: c-d
- Pod 3: e-i
- Pod 4: l-s
- Pod 5: s-v
The students then experiment with the options to see what purpose or effect they have on the combo-box object. After about 15 minutes, each team displays their screen to the class and demonstrates their findings. They must also explain how their findings may relate to building an effective programming application.
After the activity: Students demonstrate their findings to the class, and invariably someone remembers and uses at least one of the findings in a future project!
Additional comments from instructor: Students demonstrate what they have discovered instead of me demonstrating each property one-by-one –much more interesting and effective! This same method can work for nearly any software program that has options that should be explored (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, WinTab, etc.).
Tip provided by: Don Gaber