Category Archives: Student-Centered Pedagogy


What is a “Flipped Classroom”?

In the “flipped classroom” model, currently used by CUNY Professors Donna McGregor and Pamela Mills in the Chemistry department at Lehman College, content explication is moved out of the classroom, which frees the teacher from delivering content via the lecture format. Instead, that content is ported to an at-home format (e.g., video instruction), and thus allows the opportunity to scaffold in-classroom learning through active learning strategies. In a sense, this model converts the real world into the classroom, because that is where the student will have the most engagement with the subject matter; meanwhile the classroom is where the student will engage with their classmates for a deeper exploration of what they have been learning outside the classroom. Continue reading

What is Participatory Learning or Active Learning?

The verbs in the names of these two typically interchangeable terms say a lot about them: this kind of learning is meant to engage students, to put them in the driver’s seat of their own education, to make learning active and participation-based, and to make education more equitable. Some of the core elements of participatory learning include community, collaboration, and social justice (Alfie Kohn). Participatory learning descends from genealogies in progressive education that go back to Montessori and Dewey, radical pedagogy (think Paulo Freire‘s dialogic methods and bell hooks‘ emphasis on the intellectual and spiritual growth of students), and a variety of contemporary, engaged pedagogies, including those inflected by social science (such as the work of Carol Dweck on fixed versus growth mindset). Continue reading

Resources on the Efficacy of Active Learning

A recent study reminds us of the importance of active learning. This study reveals that student learning suffered during the switch to remote teaching earlier this year, but that small group activities helped to reduce this loss. See “The Power of Peer Interaction” by Colleen Flaherty, published by Inside Higher Ed on November 3, 2020.

The research on the value of active learning (or the term we prefer: participatory learning) is irrefutable. In May 2014, several scholars from a variety of STEM disciplines published a meta-analysis of 225 separate studies of different ways of teaching and learning. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they argued that active learning improved student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics, from test scores to retention and applicability, or the ability to apply classroom learning to new situations. They write, “students in classes with traditional lecturing were 1.5 times more likely to fail than were students in classes with active learning.” A follow-up meta-study conducted in 2020, showed the same kind of results were even more evident if difference, equality, diversity, and inclusion were taken into account. Another showed equally significant improvements in learning and understanding for international students. One popular account of the PNAS study quipped that if comparative results had been this clear cut in a pharmaceutical study, traditional pedagogy would be taken off the market. Continue reading