Cal Lu Places Spotlight On Active Learning

Two California Lutheran University professors are combating the effects of traditional lecture-style learning in university classrooms. Dr. David Marcey, who is the Fletcher Jones professor of developmental biology and Dr. Michael McCambridge, a professor of education and director of interdisciplinary educational studies, proposed a new Center for Active Learning (or CAL).

Marcey said the idea for the CAL came out of a collaborative grant with Oxnard College, called Project Acabado. According to the CAL website, the grant is a five-year Science Technology Engineering and Math (or STEM) exclusive fund given by the U.S. Department of Education.

Marcey and McCambridge said the CAL was funded at the end of 2016, and only in the past few months was it able to get up off the ground. There is no physical address on campus for CAL as of now, Marcey said.

“One of the main components of [CAL] is to develop and deliver faculty workshops, we call them ‘ACT Institutes’ for active, collaborative and transformative teaching and learning,” Marcey said.

McCambridge said that although research points to AL as being the most beneficial learning method, not all students may learn from a hands-on approach and faculty must be sensitive to that.

“You just have to know your student. I believe that you have to start gently, and introduce them to activities that allow them to be comfortable with AL later on,” McCambridge said. “

Marcey said that teaching in STEM has “lagged behind other fields for centuries in terms of being wedded to the traditional lecture,” and that he and McCambridge are “out to change that.”

“Our hope is that those who experience our workshop will go and incorporate AL in their classrooms and see that students are learning deeply and are more engaged in that learning process,” McCambridge said. “It’s kind of like when you throw a big stone in a little body of water, you get that ripple effect. I’m proud that the methods we’re promoting are living on.”

Olivia Schouten