Canvas at Northwestern


Active Learning Environments Faculty Group

Active learning environments (ALEs) are interactive, interdisciplinary spaces where information and technology can promote effective student learning. ALEs support peer learning, case-based learning, and group problem solving. These spaces are created to encourage faculty to experiment with student-centered pedagogies.

Northwestern faculty participating in this collaborative group are teaching in two new classroom spaces—Tech F281 and M349—during the 2015 fall quarter and attend regular group meetings to share their successes and challenges with active learning. Northwestern Information Technology provides both technical and pedagogical support as faculty explore these innovative spaces with their students. See ALE Teaching Resources to learn more.

Active Learning Classrooms provide:

Watch the video titled "Interactive Biology Class" to see how the University of Minnesota has been using their Active Learning Classrooms.

Schedule and Proposed Agenda

Week of Sept. 1, 2015 - Meeting 1 (2 hours):

Sept. 25, 2015 - Meeting 2 (90 minutes):

Oct-Nov. - Observation and feedback sessions

Nov. 2 - Meeting 3 (90 minutes):

TBD - December Networking Event

Dec. 16 - Meeting 4 (90 minutes):

Jan. 2016 - After Meeting 4:

TBD, May 2016 - End of year report-out and celebration

ALE Teaching Resources

Baepler, Paul, Brooks, D. Christopher, and Walker, J.D.  Active Learning Spaces: New Directions for Teaching and Learning. (137) Spring 2014. Special issue.

Baepler, Paul, Walker, J.D., Driessen, M. (2014). It’s not about seat time: Blending, flipping, and efficiency in active learning classrooms. Computers and Education, 78, 227-236.

Brooks, D. C. (2011). Space matters: The impact of formal learning environments on student learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42, 5, 719-726.

Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L. McDonough, M., Smith, J.K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderothe, M.P. (2014) Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111, 23, 8410-5.

Hanford, E., Physicists seek to lose the lecture as a teaching tool. NPR broadcast of American Radioworks. 2012, January 1), from:

Mills, B. (2012) IDEA paper No. 53. Active Learning: Strategies in Face-to-Face Courses.

Petersen, C. I., & Gorman, K. S. (2014). Strategies to Address Common Challenges When Teaching in an Active Learning Classroom. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2014, 137, 63-70.

Solheim, C., Longo, B., Cohen, B.A, & Dikkers, A.G. (2010) Interdependent Catalysts for Transforming Learning Environments…and the Faculty Who Teach in Them. Educause Quarterly, 33,3.

Walker, J.D. Brooks, C., & Baepler, P. (2011) Pedagogy and Space: Empirical research on new learning environments. Educause Review. 34,4.

Weigel, F. K., & Bonica, M. (2014). An Active Learning Approach to Bloom's Taxonomy: 2 Games, 2 Classrooms, 2 Methods. U.S. Army Medical Department Journal, 21-29.

Whiteside, A. L., Brooks, D. C., & Walker, J. D. (June 01, 2010). Making the Case for Space: Three Years of Empirical Research on Learning Environments. Educause Quarterly, 33,3.

Other resources:

Strategies from McGill University.

Video. Baepler, P. & Walker, J.D. Active Learning Classrooms and Social Context: Changing Relationships to Improve Learning. ELI Conference, October 2014.

Center for Faculty Excellence. Classroom Activities for Active Learning. (2009).

YouTube Playlist on active learning.

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