Hi everyone! I am so excited to be back again on the blog. The past few weeks have been absolutely pleasant in the twin cities. The weather could not be better. In the mornings, the fresh cool breeze sweeps the leaves away into a little song, by the lunch hour, it's warmed up enough I find myself tossing away the light sweater I put on in the morning. I love the fall season:) However, the fall season is not the only reason I chose the University of Minnesota. Today I will try to answer the million dollar question, Why did I choose to attend the University of Minnesota?
Among the many reasons for why I chose the University of Minnesota, the active classroom environment is an important one and that I would like to share with you today. Most introductory graduate courses at the U of M tend to be large in size while the more advanced courses are much smaller. Regardless of the size, professors create an active environment that promote creativity and individual growth by incorporating students' ideas, encouraging constructive criticism, and providing an opportunity for students to learn by doing.
In contrast to the passive teaching style, where the professor lectures and the students take notes, professors at the U of M prefer an active teaching style, where students participate in discussions and ask as many questions as they can during class time. This may not be natural at first for some students who may be used to the passive teaching style such as myself but with the support of the professors and teaching assistants this becomes natural quickly and easily. The teaching assistants are a good resource because they are usually upper class students who have already taken the course and excelled in it.
Furthermore, most professors who teach graduate courses at the U of M encourage students to work together inside and outside the classroom. In almost all graduate courses, teamwork exercises such as group projects, group presentations, or even group homework assignments are common. In my opinion, the exchange of ideas promotes creativity among students, prepares students for academic research, as well as enables students to gather skills necessary for working in a professional environment after graduation. Additionally, I find myself applying this method of learning outside the classroom, such as when listening to news reports or when discussing an interesting topic with my friends. Also, I have discovered that by talking about the subject and hearing others' views I retain the information better than when I have to learn the same thing passively. Most importantly, I have made new friendships and enjoyed learning more than I ever thought I would! Most of my friends at the U of M are fellow students that I met in the classroom and worked with in class projects :-)
For a large university such as the U of M, I find the classroom environment a unique quality that may be harder to find at other universities as large as the U of M. If you choose to attend the U of M I hope you find the classroom environment as rewarding as I have.
Until next time, "kwa heri" (goodbye in kiswahili)