REACH – Redesigning for Active learning in High-enrollment courses

Primary Objectives

The REACH team will partner with faculty and instructors to:

  • Transform high-enrollment, lecture-based courses into more active and inclusive learning environments that can be sustained by academic departments
  • Inspire greater student responsibility for learning by increasing student inquiry and engagement with the subject matter
  • Improve student learning

Early Indications of Impact

  • Consistent, active and inclusive course structures and practices
  • Co-created learning objectives, curriculums and assessments
  • Expanded TA training and development
  • Improved student engagement and learning
  • Increased lecture attendance, from 55-70% to 80-85%

Faculty and instructors report:

  • Increased skill in designing active learning courses
  • Increased collaboration with colleagues about their teaching

Participating Departments and Courses

Department of Chemistry

  • Chem 103 – General Chemistry I
  • Chem 104 – General Chemistry II

Department of Communication Arts

  • Com Arts 250 – Survey of Contemporary Media
  • Com Arts 260 – Communication and Human Behavior

Department of Kinesiology

  • Kinesiology 337 – Human Anatomy
  • Kinesiology 338 – Human Anatomy Lab

Department of Mathematics

  • Math 221 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry I
  • Math 222 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry II
  • Math 234 – Calculus – Functions of Several Variables

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

  • MS&E 350 – Introduction to Materials Science

Department of Physics

  • Physics 103 – General Physics
  • Physics 104 – General Physics

REACH Co-leads

  • Kris Olds, Professor, Dept. of Geography, College of Letters & Science, and EI Senior Fellow
  • Sarah Miller, Leader of Faculty Engagement and Strategic Learning Technology Consulting, DoIT Academic Technology

Leading Partners

Other Features

Additional Background

The REACH initiative aims to transform large, introductory, lecture-based courses into sustainable, active learning environments that increase students’ engagement in their own learning.

The initiative will build on successful innovations across campus that strive to enhance the undergraduate experience through student-centered learning practices. REACH will not only reinforce the common goal among these efforts, but will extend their reach to encompass tens of thousands of first- and second-year students over the next 5 years.

While excellent examples of active learning already exist in many of our undergraduate programs, especially in courses with low student-to-instructor ratios, the logistics and sheer number of students in high-enrollment lecture-based courses often inhibits innovation and experimentation.

To set an expectation of active, flexible learning for all of our students, especially our first-year students, and to ensure improved student learning outcomes are accessible universally, the REACH team will partner with faculty and instructors to redesign large, introductory lecture-based courses to be more student-centered and inclusive.

Grounded in the research, the REACH initiative will integrate evidence-based practices, effective technologies and ongoing assessment into the selected courses. Ultimately, students in the redesigned courses will spend a significant amount of class time on activities that will require them to be actively processing and applying information in a variety of ways, such as answering questions using electronic clickers, working through problem-based case studies, engaging in group projects and peer-to-peer evaluation, as well as completing technology-enhanced assignments.

Course Selection Criteria
In collaboration with the university’s deans, courses will continue to be selected primarily based on their classification as large, introductory, high-enrollment courses (100 students or greater). To ensure sustainability, departments form teams of faculty and staff to participate in the transformation, teaching and evaluation process, and commit to sustaining and enhancing the redesign in future offerings.

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