Outrageous Article About New Science Classroom Facility
The University of Minnesota is abandoning the traditional teaching methods of yesterday in favor of providing students with interactive and technology-laden instruction in the science disciplines. The new mindset facilitates innovative teaching paradigms that replace the old-fashioned lecture format with an environment that offers hands-on learning.
"Our objectives are very ambitious because we want this to be the best facility of its kind in the nation," says Robert Kvavik, who recently retired as the University's associate vice president for planning.
"The new teaching paradigms will emerge faster than we can imagine with the new technologies and this building will be adaptable to the necessary changes," says Kvavik. "Keeping pace with the future teaching paradigms and ever-changing technologies will provide an environment that enables students to learn and better comprehend scientific concepts."
The days of cramming hundreds of students into a tiered classroom to hear a lecture are disappearing at the University of Minnesota. This type of teaching is especially outdated at a time when students can be easily distracted from a monotone lecture by indulging themselves with their own technology, such as cell phones and iPods.
"We're offering the foundational skills needed for success in science and future careers in terms of problem solving, data analysis and interpretation, laboratory skills and experimental design, teamwork, communication, and quantitative reasoning," says Kvavik. "We already have empirical evidence that students who learn in an interactive environment have a better understanding of science.
The previous Science Classroom Building, which was constructed at the end of WWII on the bridgehead over the Mississippi River, was not designed to offer the modern teaching paradigms. Therefore, it was demolished to make room for the new building. Faculty members in the Chemistry Department suggested building a new facility that would house six large traditional tiered classrooms. However, the University's administration managed to obtain buy-in from a sufficient number of stakeholders after explaining why the auditorium-style classrooms are no longer suitable for today's innovative teaching methods. The state legislators agreed to provide funding for the Science Teaching and Student Services Center, having first rejected a proposal for a building with tiered classrooms.
The University had gathered data to verify that large classrooms in the old building were underutilized because departments were abandoning this type of teaching.
The evidence was clear that students' grades improved by as much as one point in the hands-on teaching environment. The students also expressed greater satisfaction with the environment and the faculty members. Students and faculty innovators became primary advocates for the construction of the state-of-the-art building.
Another fallacy that surrounded discussions about the new building was that departments would not have enough faculty or resources to implement the new paradigms. However, this was quickly addressed by pointing out that the Biology, Nursing, and Public Health departments made the change with no additional faculty. As an added bonus, higher enrollment numbers generated by the new teaching paradigm mean more revenue that could be used, if necessary, to hire additional faculty members.
"The interactive classroom is more expensive in terms of space, faculty, and electricity,'' says Kvavik. "However, if you are serious about being a top university that can attract the best students, you have to provide this type of environment or you are simply going to lose."
There are so many errors and false claims in this piece that I don't know where to start. Anyone who has followed this situation closely can spot them immediately.