Beyond Whiteboards and Rolling Chairs: Activating an Active Learning Classroom


  • Kim Eby George Mason University
  • Shelley Reid George Mason University
  • Amber Jensen George Mason University
  • Laura Lukes George Mason University
  • Zhicheng Zhang George Mason University



Drawing on four yearsâ worth of faculty and student surveys as well as interviews with Mason faculty, we explore how faculty who teach in Masonâs active learning classrooms (ALCs) come to take advantage of the space to engage their students in active learning. Surveys show that both students and faculty report that activities we identify as interactive occur with high frequency in those learning spaces, though not evenly across all of the classroom spaces. Students and faculty also self-report higher levels of engagement in ALCs as compared to traditional classrooms. Interviews with faculty, including faculty teaching for the first time in the new classrooms in Peterson Hall, help reveal the range of factors that make it more likely that faculty will use pedagogical strategies that support active learning--including their prior exposure to examples of active learning pedagogy, their beliefs about the efficacy and relevance of those pedagogies, their overall flexibility as teachers, and their own past experiences using active learning strategies.