Classroom Olympics innovates new ways to engage students presented

Kelly Savela and Kelly Savela

The first ever Active Learning Classroom Olympics proved to be both beneficial and successful for the Center for Faculty Excellence.

The Center for Faculty Excellence hosted their first classroom Olympics this past Friday where half a dozen instructors were able to present. Instructors were given ten minutes to demonstrate their classroom initiatives to a panel of judges and fellow colleagues. A professor initially developed the idea of White Board Olympics and the idea expanded from there.

“Because of the new active learning classrooms, we really want to place an emphasis in how faculty can engage the students,” said Karen Harris, assistant director of the Center for Faculty Excellence.

The Center for Faculty Excellence invited faculty members to partake in this event where their creative ideas could be shown to other faculty members. The panel of judges, consisting of Paul Cesarini, Susan Kleine and Jodi Haney, gave special recognition to the three presentations that they deemed the most engaging for the benefit of the student.

There were faculty members ranging from General Studies Writing courses to American Cultural Studies who partook in this event. A Food and Nutrition instructor showed in one of their courses students didn’t use textbooks but read and reviewed scholarly articles in small groups during class time. Another presented an activity in which students wrote down five things on notecards they would put in a time capsule to represent themselves. Students didn’t attribute their names to their notecards and the class evaluated what people think of the person who wrote the objects.

The event turned out to be a great success, Harris said.

There were about 36 faculty who came to listen to the presenters. The event is something that the department wishes to continue in the future, although advertising it more is something they want to work on.

“This demonstrates the importance of faculty sharing ideas. It provides an opportunity to hear what others are doing in their classroom,” Harris said.

Every presentation was videotaped in an effort to provide the resources to faculty who were unable to make the event. The Center for Faculty Excellence intends on working to promote the fact that everybody used ideas that everyone can use.

With teaching being somewhat of a lonely profession, it can be powerful to share ideas and this was one approach to facilitate that growth among faculty at the University.