MnSCU Receives Bush Grant to Improve Learning

Posted: July 19, 1999

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Educators know that students learn more and remember more of what they learn when they are actively doing something, rather than simply sitting and listening.

To promote the use of active learning in the classroom, the 36 institutions of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system this week received a $1.6 million Bush Foundation grant that will help faculty develop more active teaching and learning strategies. The grant was the largest of 79 grants approved by the foundation in July.

Developing expertise in teaching methods that foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills was the most compelling faculty development need identified in a 1997 survey of faculty at all 36 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

"We do not take excellent teaching and learning for granted," said Linda Baer, MnSCU senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. "It is an art and a science that we need to continue to invest in to do the very best for our students."

Baer said a three-year program called "Learning by Doing" will provide training and funding to support innovative instructional projects at all 36 MnSCU institutions. The program was developed on the basis of several pilot projects conducted last year. These projects involved such things as river monitoring at Southwest State University, screenwriting at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and urban planning at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The Learning by Doing program has four goals:

  • Increase faculty skills in using active learning strategies in their classrooms.
  • Increase the use of educational technology as a strategy to involve students in their own learning.
  • Provide training in active learning principles and techniques for faculty development leaders on every MnSCU campus.
  • Increase student satisfaction and involvement in their own learning.

The program will be directed by Jane Miller, MnSCU system director for the Center for Teaching and Learning.

"We believe that this initiative will not only enhance student learning, but build a greater sense of cohesion and cooperation among faculty and institutions across the MnSCU system," said Morris J. Anderson, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.