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Program will emphasize active learning

Early Chinese philosopher Lao-Tse wrote, “If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see. But if you let me experience, I will learn.”

This type of action-oriented learning forms the basis of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). “Active Learning: Pathways to Higher-Order Thinking at UT Arlington” is an ongoing initiative to develop educational programs for students that enhance the value of their UT Arlington experience.

“Through a series of campuswide discussions, surveys and focus groups, the faculty identified active learning as a theme that would foster the necessary skills to enable students to become contributing members of our university and the surrounding community,” QEP Coordinator Victoria Farrar-Myers said.

Active learning places students at the center of the learning process, making them a partner in discovery rather than a passive receiver of information. Instructors are responsible for creating and defining the learning environment, while students are responsible for engaging themselves in the learning process. Approaches include class discussion, undergraduate research and community-based experiences.

In a 2004 survey of potential employers of UT Arlington graduates, 99.3 percent rated problem solving as important, very important or essential. The QEP aims to produce graduates who can solve complex, real-world problems.

“We are using active learning as a means to achieve higher-order thinking skills,” Dr. Farrar-Myers said. “These are defined as application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.” Students who learn at these levels should remember more because more reflection and elaboration are required.

UT Arlington is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and undergoes a review every 10 years. Among the requirements is the development of a QEP. The final plan will be submitted to SACS in January, six weeks before the organization’s on-site review.

The QEP Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from the nine academic units plus the Honors College and Graduate School, as well as representatives from Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Advising, the Library, Faculty Senate and student body.

Future UT Arlington Magazine issues will cover the QEP and its 12 active learning models, which will be implemented in fall 2007.


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