A New Style of Learning
Steelcase grant funds active learning classrooms on campus
Mikaela Schuman, staff writer
April 2018, Oregon Tech’s Commission on College Teaching (CCT) was selected by Steelcase Education to receive funding for new Active Learning classrooms. This grant allowed Oregon Tech to redesign Owens 201 to have mobile tables, desks, and chairs; and whiteboards and smartboards, to create a space that encourages student collaboration.
Over the next two years, CCT plans to use this classroom to study how classroom environment affects student engagement and teamwork. CCT member, Professor Sharon Beaudry, said “The Active Learning Center will allow Oregon Tech faculty to push the boundaries of teaching”. The plan is for Professors involved in this experiment to focus less on lecture style teaching and more on guided, activity-based teaching.
“As a student in the classroom, it's an interesting change from the other classrooms in Owens. I like that it is set up for collaboration,” said Professional Writing major, Brette Bliss, “the whiteboards are perfect for in class group collaboration, especially for multiple groups. The smart boards make giving presentations easy and allows us to practice professional presentations without worrying about whether the equipment in the room will work.”
Oregon Tech’s mission in partnering with Steelcase Education was to allow for the advancement in the “hands-on” learning approach with the support of new teaching and learning innovations. Comparing the Active Learning Center to the other classrooms in Owens and around campus, Bliss said, “the types of facilitative and collaborative work we have been able to do has been more effective in this classroom. I feel like this term, we are all on the same page when it comes to ideas and how we are progressing with our project.”
Founded in 1912, Steelcase focuses on designing environmentally sustainable workspaces and classrooms that allow their customers to “work, learn, and heal”. Over the last four years. Steelcase Education has awarded 56 Active Learning Center grants. This year, there were 1037 applicants, and Oregon Tech was one of 16 institutions in the Nation to receive grants for these innovative new classrooms.