WelcomeThis Teaching Commons for Northern Michigan University's Active Learning Catalysts project provides information about the project and links and tools for accessing related resources.

About the Active Learning Catalysts Project

Northern Michigan University's Active Learning Catalysts project is increasing the adoption of technology-enhanced active learning in classes taught by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty. Student-centered active learning techniques and incorporation of technology into teaching have both been identified as having positive effects on learning in STEM disciplines. However, barriers to these approaches—including lack of time, institutional support, and training, as well as the prevalence of traditional classrooms designed for passive lectures—have prevented their broad adoption.

The Active Learning Catalysts project addresses those barriers by:

  1. Facilitating the implementation of technologically-enhanced active learning by developing a cohort of six STEM focal point faculty (Catalysts) who are immersing themselves in active learning pedagogy, redesigning their own courses, and serving as models for their peers,
  2. Establishing a student-centered technology-rich studio classroom designed to support active learning pedagogy, and
  3. Assessing the effectiveness of technologies used in active learning pedagogy in order to provide best practice recommendations.

These efforts are increasing incorporation of active learning into all STEM disciplines at NMU. The program is replicable, enhancing the likelihood of transformational change in STEM education and broadening participation in the sciences.

The project is supported by an NSF TUES grant (award number 1043984) titled Increasing Adoption of Active Learning in STEM Disciplines by Integrating a Faculty Development Program and a Technology-facilitated Learning Environment.

About this Web Site

This Teaching Commons is a free, open educational resource available to anyone interested in active learning. One of the anticipated broader impacts of the Active Learning Catalysts project is participation in the evolution of technology facilitated active learning. The Teaching Commons helps facilitate that by sharing the Active Learning Catalyst Project's information and results, highlighting related resources, and making connections among faculty.

This Teaching Commons is integrated with MERLOT, a collection of free peer reviewed higher education online learning materials and resources and a set of faculty development support services. It is designed for those who want to share their learning materials and pedagogy.

In addition to this home page, the Active Learning Catalysts is divided into the following sections:

  • Project Details provides more in-depth information about the Active Learning Catalysts project, including background, goals, broader impacts, participants, and timeline.

  • Facility showcases the high tech active learning classroom implemented as part of the project, including layout, furniture, and technology.

  • Teaching Materials highlights active learning resources in the MERLOT collection, which in the future will include materials contributed by Catalysts.

  • Resources links to literature, videos, and web sites related to active learning in STEM disciplines.

  • News and Events logs workshops, milestones, and other project news.
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Online Community

The Active Learning Catalysts Community on MERLOT Voices, a companion to this Teaching Commons, provides an interactive space for discussion of the Catalysts project and technologically-enhanced active learning in general.

Contact the Project Team