The scholar-practitioner model is an advanced educational and operational approach that emphasizes the practical application of scholarly knowledge and information. Scholarly practice is based on theory and research in addition to experimental knowledge. It is fueled by personal values, dedication, and ethical conduct. Research asserts that scholarly practice focuses on the problem-solving approach (Abuachi, 2017). Indeed, a scholar-practitioner recognizes problems, in-depth examine the issue and invest in searching for a productive solution. Essentially, scholar-practitioners are involved in bridging the gap between academia and real-world situation through incorporating scholarly research with practical applications in efforts of solving problems in their profession. Therefore, the scholar-practitioner model is crucial since it uses theory and experimental knowledge to solve problems in the education setting by utilizing the approach to design the most appropriate solution to the problem. Considering the importance of education in the development of society, it is deductible that the scholar-practitioner model is particularly applicable.
The article analyzes the concept of scholar-practitioner focusing on the idea of active learning classrooms. In efforts of moving away from the traditional classes that prompted orthodox teaching and learning techniques that do not take into account the technological advancements of the 21st century, scholar-practitioners developed the concept of active learning environments. Active learning classrooms encompass various changes in the classes from whiteboards to wireless speakers to movable furniture among others. However, it is essential for active learning environments to be accompanied by programs for both faculty and students intended to maximize the advantages of these classrooms. Based on the Mosaic Initiative at Indiana University, the article argues active learning environments should be supplemented and complemented with other development programs.
The Background of the Organization (Indiana University)
Indiana University is expected to celebrate its bicentennial in 2020. Indiana University a public research institution of higher learning with more than forty thousand enrolled students in its most extensive and original campus. Indiana’s State government in Corydon established Indiana University in 1820 merely as the State Seminary.
It is evident that in the two centuries of existence the buildings and the classrooms have witnessed several changes that have positively affected the teaching and learning techniques in the university. The construction of the seminary buildings which later become Indiana University began in 1822. The first building constructed building was the professor’s house which was to house the university’s first member of the faculty, Baynard Hall. The second structure to be completed in 1825 was the seminary building (Jauch, 2017). The building was a two-story rectangular brick structure with evenly spaced windows and the projecting mid-roof bell tower. Some of the characteristics of the structure such as the mid-roof bell tower to no small extent reflect the university’s dedication to contemporary academic and public buildings. Research indicates the next building to be complemented was the President’s house in 1835.
After its elevation from a seminary to a college in 1828, Indiana College dedicated its first college structure in 1836, which served various purposes but was unfortunately destroyed by a fire in 1854. In 1838, the first dormitory was constructed and the first laboratory in 1840 (Jauch, 2017). One year after a fire destroyed the First College Building, the university built another building to replace it. Since Indiana College was elevated to Indiana University in 1838, the building was named the first Indiana University building. With the evident growth in the student body, Indiana University constructed Science Hall in 1873. However, a decade later the building was also destroyed by fire which prompted the university to purchase land east of the Seminary Square, which marked the beginning of the current Bloomington Campus (Jauch, 2017). Undeniably, over the past century, the university has made various changes in their building to keep up with the growing student body, the expansions in schools, and the importance of facilitating scientific research in addition to developing structures that support extra curriculum activities (Indiana University, 2018). Indeed, The Mosaic initiative reflects the university dedication to ensure the building and learning spaces reflect the 21st-century technological paradigm.
Over the past two centuries, Indiana has expanded in both academic and extra-curriculum activities. Currently, the university is a public ivy university and often appears among the top hundred universities in the US. Indeed, the university has numerous schools and programs from Music, informatics, computing, engineering, business, public health, law, education, nursing, optometry, media, and public and environmental affairs. The university is renowned for a diverse student life system with more than 700 student organizations (Jauch, 2017). The university’s faculty, staff, and alumni encompass Rhodes scholars, Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows and Marshall Scholars. The University has more than 1800 full-time faculty members.
Some of the issues the institution has experienced over the past half a century include an increase in the number of drop-outs in the student’s taking academic sciences, keeping up with changing curricula and teaching techniques in addition to keeping pace with technology. Various challenges often accompany changes in methods and curricula. Indiana University has faced issues in trying to move from education grounded on passive students to providing teaching and learning designs that are student-centered (Indiana University, 2018). Moreover, technology illustrates that education must move from merely flipped classrooms to dynamic ones that enable students to view the lectures ahead of time and approach learning innovatively. Over the past five decades, Indiana University has made conscious efforts to incorporate technology in teaching and learning.
In recent years the concept of active learning classrooms is popular in many institutions of higher learning due to extensive development and upsurge of technology. Like many aspects of technology, active classes provide many educational opportunities (Rands & Gansemer-Topf, 2017). Undeniably, many institutions of higher education are embracing active learning classrooms since such environments promote innovative learning. In recent years, the concept of teaching and learning has moved from the mere process of “pouring knowledge” in the brain of the student to encompass student-centered educational techniques which illustrate that the student is actively engaged in the process of learning.
The idea of moving from traditional teaching and learning involves the transformation of classrooms to provide environments that facilitate student-centered teaching and learning. Fundamentally, in a bid to keep pace with technology and new teaching and learning techniques many schools, especially institutions of learning are investing in active learning classrooms (Rands & Gansemer-Topf, 2017). Therefore, it is evident the changes in curricula and teaching techniques in addition to extensive development in technology in the past two decades are issues which many institutions counter through investing in active learning classrooms.
However, the majority of these institutions concentrate on developing such environments without investing time and resources in activities that supplement and complement such learning environments. Institutions of higher learning fail to recognize that the mere creation of the active classrooms is not enough. It stands to reason as the learning environment is changing; educators and students should also improve. It is essential that the teaching and learning techniques accompany the changes in the classrooms.
The idea of active learning classrooms is grounded in the concept of active learning. Active learning in entirety encompasses students doing things and actively engaged in thinking about the things they do. Therefore, in active learning, the learners are involved in more than listening to the lectures since the strategy encourages the students to share their thoughts (Hyun, Ediger, & Lee, 2017). Moreover, the learning techniques help the students to be involved in synthesis and analysis of the information they receive rather than relying on mere memorization. From the definition of active learning, it is evident that the mere development of active learning classrooms is not sufficient. Therefore, it suffices to say it is essential for the active learning classrooms to be accompanied by programs that support active learning as an ideology that emphasizes student-centered teaching and learning.
The problem at a national level
Over the past decade, there have been evident changes in universities and colleges across the USA. These changes include but are not limited to technological advancements, whiteboards mounted across the walls, movable tables, and chairs among others. The new developments and renovated college classrooms are commonly known as active classrooms. For instance, smart podiums characterized by wirelessly connected podiums and tablets equipped with digital pens among others enable lecturers to interact with their students in massive lecture walls effortlessly. Moreover, smart technologies are applied throughout the classroom irrespective of the type of lecture since many educators share classes in many institutions. More than 200 universities across the USA have embraced these changes, and a large number are investing in initiatives designed to achieve such a learning environment.
Undeniably, colleges and universities among other institutions of higher are actively investing in active classrooms since the developments associated with these classrooms support the new generation of pedagogical practices. At the core of active learning as an ideology is the desire to fully engage the learners so that they are no longer mere passive recipients of knowledge but are active participants in addition to being co-creators of their knowledge (Rands & Gansemer-Topf, 2017). Actively engaging students involves the creation of an environment that reflects the desire to showcase students as active participants and co-creators in their knowledge; thus the popularity of active learning classrooms across the USA. While the concept of active classes is appealing not only to the students but also the educators it is vital that these learning environments are supplemented and complemented by sustained and intentional faculty developments programs.
Case Study: Indiana University’s Mosaic Initiative
In efforts to keep pace with technology and associated technical aspects in the classroom such as wireless projections and smart podiums, Indiana University developed the Mosaic project. The Mosaic project was also intended to ensure Indiana University was at par with the teaching and learning techniques of the 21st century. The initiative began in 2015 having been inspired by the relative success of a similar project at Iowa University. The Iowa University Transform, Interact, Learn and Engage (TILE) initiative focused on faculty development, classroom renovation and educational assessment from 2009. Half a decade later, many educational critics deemed the program relatively success. Indiana University was inspired to initiate the Mosaic Project partly due to heated conversations from the University of Iowa staff.
The Mosaic Program focuses on how Indiana University might transform their more than 400 general-purpose traditional classrooms to support the idea of active learning. While Indiana had focused on constructing active learning classrooms from the dawn of the 21st century, the university recognized that adding new classes is not sufficient and there is a necessity of transforming existing classrooms (Morrone, Flaming, Birdwell, Rusell, Roman, & Jesse, 2017). Undeniably, the transformation is vital since Indiana University began more than two centuries ago. Indeed, it is deductible that the majority of the university’s lecture halls did not take into account the new generation of pedagogical designs. The name Mosaic purposefully pinpoints to variety rather than a single configuration (Morrone, Flaming, Birdwell, Rusell, Roman, & Jesse, 2017). The Mosaic initiative encompasses movable furniture, portable whiteboards, and wireless projections among other aspects of advanced technologies intended to promote active learning. The Mosaic Initiative prompts the faculty and students to explore the relationship between technology, space, and pedagogy.
However, in the desire to keep up with technology the Indiana University relatively ignored the importance of accompanying the initiative with other programs that are designed to maximize the usefulness of active learning classrooms. It is important to acknowledge that impediments remain in changing the teaching and learning practice to implement active learning environments. It is vital for the concept of the active learning environment to extend beyond the technical aspect of technology to include the different ways of teaching and learning associated with the technology (Hyun, Ediger, & Lee, 2017). Indeed, it is necessary for the Mosaic Initiative to focus on professional development and the hands-on and student-centered faculty teaching in the active learning environment. Integrating educators and student development in the program should be done gradually to avoid cases where the students or the teachers are overwhelmed with the program.
Case Study Review
Summary of the Theory (Constructivism)
The idea that students should learn through practice, application and apprenticeship has existed for centuries and is postulated by many constructivism theories. Primarily, constructivism maintains that people learn through a continual process of building, interpreting and modifying the general presentations of their perceptions of the reality depending on individual experiences with the said reality (Pardjono, 2016). The three core characteristics of the constructivist view include; Firstly; the concept that knowledge is not something to be acquired but rather it is an evolving process where the student actively engages in making sense of the world. Secondly, the theory holds that individuals often conditionalize their knowledge in personal ways. Notably, the constructivist approach asserts that individuals acquire and preserve knowledge differently in forms that enable them to utilize that particular knowledge at a later date. The third major feature of constructivism is the emphasis on collaboration and social negotiation of meaning. That is, the theory postulates that learning takes place in a social context (Pardjono, 2016). Therefore, the constructivist view illustrates that individuals learn through a continuously active process of knowledge building that to no small extent depends on the social context.
The constructive theory is affiliated to Piaget’s theories of assimilation and accommodation. Similar to Piaget, constructivism emphasizes the constructive activity of the human mind in the formation and interpretation of a particular experience. Moreover, human interaction with the environment is a core issue in Piaget since he perceives cognitive development as a product of social interaction (Pardjono, 2016). Constructivism postulates the same ideology since the theory emphasizes that learners are active rather than passive in the construction and reception of knowledge. Fundamentally, the theory holds that learning is a process of building up structures of a particular interpreted experience. Holding this view, students do not transfer knowledge from the external environment into their memories as hypothesized in traditional views but instead they create their interpretations of the environment grounded on their experiences.
The aspect of the active learning environment to some extent embody the characteristics of the constructivist learning theory since the concept of active learning environment illustrates the idea of changing classrooms to support new teaching and learning practices that are intended to improve the students’ perception. Undeniably, active learning emphasizes the concept on student-centered teaching and learning an ideology that corresponds with constructivism perception that education involves the learner taking an initiative to interpret the environment based on his or her experience rather than merely memorizing information (Pardjono, 2016). Similar to constructivism, active learning encourages the active engagement of the learner in the pedagogical process.
Active learning fundamentally describes the processes associated with students engaging in activities that coerce them to reflect upon ideas and how to effectively apply those particular ideas. Therefore, active learning to no small extent requires the learners to regularly assess their perceptions of the degree of understanding and skill at addressing the concepts and problems in the learning process (Hyun, Ediger, & Lee, 2017). The concepts associated with active learning illustrates that extensive effort is dedicated to increasing student engagement in college and universities lecture halls. Some of the teaching and learning techniques that concur with active learning include but are not limited to collaborative education, cooperative learning, and problem-based learning. Evidence that active learning is successful exists from different institutions and disciplines (Birdwell, Hammersmith, Roman, & Jeromoliv, 2016). Indeed, focusing on literature on the success of active learning, a study focused on student’s perceptions on the concept of active learning asserts learners enjoy learning through engaging activities. The students contended that engaging education positively influenced their learning experience (Lumpkin, Achen, & Dodd, 2015).
However, it is essential to acknowledge that the idea of active learning differs from the concept of active learning classroom. Active learning is an ideology while active learning classrooms merely showcase a space. Research indicates learning space is an essential ingredient in students’ participation in active learning (Hyun, Ediger, & Lee, 2017). However, the learning space is merely an ingredient or rather one component of the idea of active learning. Active learning is more detailed since it encompasses all the processes intended to improve the teaching and learning techniques while active learning classrooms focus on only the physical and technical aspects (Birdwell, Hammersmith, Roman, & Jeromoliv, 2016). Therefore, while active learning classrooms enhance active learning, they are not sufficient to drive the ideology. The Mosaic project focused on transforming classrooms, therefore, to no small extent ignored the activities associated with teaching and learning processes. It is crucial for the Mosaic Initiative to emphasize educator and student development programs as much as it focuses on the technical and physical aspects.
Constructivism asserts that learning is an active continuous process grounded on individual perception and social context. While the Mosaic’s idea of active learning classrooms has proved beneficial to Indiana University over the past two years, adopting techniques that will also focus on student and educators innovation might go a long way to supplement and complement the initiative. Indeed, constructivism collaborates with the idea of active learning. Unlike active learning classrooms, active learning encompasses all innovative designs including the concept of teacher and student innovation intended to increase student engagement (Rands & Gansemer-Topf, 2017). The Mosaic Initiative gives more attention to the technical and physical aspects of improving the learning environment while undermining the importance of programs that encourage both students and teachers to embrace active learning as an ideology. Therefore, it suffices to say that concentrating on developing the classroom is not sufficient to change the teaching and learning process of both the educators and the students in Indiana.
It is necessary for Indiana University to invest in sustained and intentional faculty and student development programs that will accompany the changes associated with the active learning classrooms initiative. Indeed, Mosaic project must grow from emphasizing exciting new designs and technologies to leveraging the active learning spaces in alignment with evidence-based teaching philosophies to facilitate extensive student engagement (Morrone, Flaming, Birdwell, Rusell, Roman, & Jesse, 2017). Some of the activities that educators can pursue in active learning spaces include collaborative learning which is facilitated by movable furniture. It is necessary for Indiana University to utilize active learning classrooms to promote active education and associated teaching and learning methodologies. In conclusion, the development of active learning as a mere reaction to technological advancement is not sufficient and should be accompanied with programs that support student-centered active rather than passive learning as postulated in the constructivism educational theory.
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