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Wednesday, June 22 • 11:15 - 12:15
CON01.14c - Design and Orchestration: How to implement active learning and promote collaboration

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Active learning is a pedagogical innovation based on a social theory of learning. There is growing evidence supporting its effectiveness to improve learning outcomes and empower students (Freeman et al., 2014). It replaces the traditional instructional paradigm with a student-centered approach that imposes new considerations for instructors. In particular, it calls for instructors to focus on designing pedagogical activities for collaboration and coordinating the classroom resources (human, knowledge and tools) in the process, what is called orchestration (Dillenbourg, 2013). This presentation will describe a qualitative case study that examined the implementation of active learning by 10 instructors (over 300 students) at three English-speaking colleges in Quebec. All instances involved active learning classrooms (exemplars of different room layouts and technological affordances). Participants represented five disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and humanities); with courses ranging from introductory to advance levels of study. The study addressed the following questions: What does active learning look like at the college level? How do instructors orchestrate their pedagogical scenarios? How do these orchestrations influence students’ collaboration? Data were collected using a mixed methods approach including classroom observations (field notes and video recordings), student questionnaires and participant interviews. Analysis involved qualitative coding to reveal patterns of orchestration and discourse analysis of interviews. Key findings include patterns of active learning implementation; descriptions of instructor’s orchestration of pedagogical scenarios and how these influenced their students’ collaboration. In particular, instances of orchestrations that fostered collaboration will be examined and discussed – i.e., interactive white board technologies that facilitated making knowledge public and shareable. Implications of this research include identification of the orchestration load carried by instructors. We will suggest guidelines for successful implementation of active learning at the post-secondary levels and discuss how they might be applied differently in classrooms with larger class sizes.


Dillenbourg, P. (2013). Design for classroom orchestration. Computers & Education, 69, 485-492.

Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415.

Presenters
avatar for Chris Whittaker

Chris Whittaker

Chris Whittaker, physics faculty and educational researcher at Dawson College. B.Sc & M.Sc. Engineering Physics (Queen's), MSW (U Toronto), and currently a PhD student in Didactics, Faculty of Education at Université de Montréal. Collaborator on consecutive research grants investigating innovations in techno-pedagogy and student-centered learning. Co-coordinator of Dawson’s Active Learning Community program.

Additional Authors
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Chao Zhang

Choa Zhang, graduate student, M.A., in Education. Research assistant with the team’s funded research projects.
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Elizabeth Charles

Elizabeth S. Charles, faculty-researcher at Dawson College, Montreal, Qc. Ph.D. in Educational Technology. Director of the Supporting Active Learning and Technological Innovation in Studies in Education (SALTISE), a community of practice involving over 15 post-secondary institutions across Montreal and the regions. Principal Investigator on consecutive grants focused on techno-pedagogical innovations.
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Kevin Lenton

Kevin Lenton, physics faculty and educational researcher at Vanier College. Ph.D. in Medical Physics. Collaborator on consecutive research grants investigating innovations in techno-pedagogy and student-centered learning. Participant and workshop leader in projects between Vanier College and international partners: Problem Based Learning in India; Active Learning in China.


Wednesday June 22, 2016 11:15 - 12:15
Weldon Library 258

Attendees (25)




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