Collaborative Learning in Action

Reading about innovative methods of teaching our classes and watching pedagogy videos and webinars are helpful practices professors have available on a daily basis. However, seeing an on-site learning collaborative learning experience with our colleagues and students in action is a richer experience by far.

In March Harding faculty in the health sciences demonstrated “pedagogy in action” as they used a flipped classroom that involved interdisciplinary, collaborative learning. Students from CSD, PA, PT, and Pharmacy worked in a team-based approach with a case study involving a cerebral vascular accident (CVA). Teams worked to understand stroke symptoms in the hypothetical patient as examined by their team that analyzed the problem from their own disciplinary perspective to create a unified picture for the diagnosis.

Faculty prepared for this team-based learning by planning in advance to use a more innovative method than they had done in previous years when the seminar was mostly lecture-based. Using Echo 360 to video capture lectures that students watched ahead of the event, they were able to use class time for interactive learning. In a large classroom, student teams came together for a half-day learning session that gave space for them to get to know one another as they worked their way through the project that simulated the kinds of work many will be doing in the careers—working on health care teams.

Visiting as the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, I was thrilled to see the energy in the room as the faculty and students worked through the case study. This project exemplifies the kind of interactive and interdisciplinary work we can do across the university. What I observed seemed to work brilliantly, but assessment is always the final piece of the picture.  The student response was very positive as exemplified by one student’s comments: Shannon Dole, CSD graduate student from Elmira, New York had this to say, “I honestly loved being able to work with the other disciplines. My group was such a fun table, and I have an entire 3-page Word document that I typed up of all of the answers to the questions I asked each of them! I was asking about different terms, maneuvers, tests, medicines, and so much more. I love that Harding puts such a focus on interdisciplinary teamwork. It really puts ‘the real world’ into perspective.”

While watching this interactive event, I was also invited to see a team-based simulation in the College of Nursing. A student team worked with a pretend patient as they were given all the sensory information they might receive from a real patient. Faculty sent the information to the students though innovative technology that allowed for voice as faculty improvised dialogue the patient might actually say and evaluated each step the team took.  Nursing and Pharmacy students had to respond quickly as the patient took a turn for the worse. Standing in the control room in which the voice and information were given remotely to the team across the hall, I marveled at all that went into such a simulation and was gratified to see the ways these students are being trained to work in a team-based, problem solving situation.

At Harding, as we work to prepare our students for life and career, we will continue to embrace dynamic methods of teaching and learning. The model used by the health sciences can be used by many other disciplines as well. At a time in which we are working toward Liberal Arts renewal across the university, it is good to reflect on ways we can demonstrate greater connectivity in learning across the university.

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