How to Establish Successful Cooperative Student Learning Centers for STEM Courses


Students learn more if they are actively involved in the learning process, particularly in a cooperative manner. Several UMR faculty have operated course-based learning centers (LCs) as part of the campus-wide Learning Enhancement Across Disciplines (LEAD) Program of student learning assistance and enhancement. LCs are designed to assist large numbers of students in a cost- and time-efficient manner that promotes student engagement without requiring undue amounts of faculty time. Course instructors spend time in the open learning environment of the LC, in lieu of office hours, guiding students to master course material and skills in their evolution from novice to expert techniques. The goals are to build student self-confidence through direct interaction with role models and to develop teamwork skills. LCs can be much more attractive to students than faculty office hours or traditional tutoring because they satisfy the social elements of student learning communities. However, there are a few simple practical elements instructors should orchestrate to generate high-volume LC usage. We will discuss practical issues of establishing and operating successful learning centers for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) courses.

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