Learning Through Experience: New Academic Commons Classrooms Give Students Hands-On Learning
For Howard Community College faculty, learning through experience provides students with skills that they can take into the workforce. This philosophy drove the design of the learning spaces in the college’s newly renovated Academic Commons.
“Faculty were at the heart of designing these spaces around the teaching and pedagogies that were already in place, as well as by their vision of the types of teaching and learning they wanted to be able to develop,” said Laura Cripps, dean of social sciences and teacher education. “Exciting times are ahead!”
Academic Commons is now home to teacher and early childhood education labs that are equipped with smart boards and furniture designed to replicate a school classroom and in-class activities.
“Many of the learning activities done in preschool and early elementary classrooms involved hands-on experiences with a host of varied materials. The new classrooms provide generous storage for supplies, from magnets to magnifying glasses, poster board to paints. Moveable tables along with classroom sinks will allow students to experiment in small groups with a wide range of creative learning activities for young children.” said Kate Kenney, assistant professor of early childhood education. “When students are employed, they will be well prepared to use all their new classroom tools in accordance with best practice.”
The renovation included an anthropology lab, giving students applied learning with material artifacts and fossil casts associated with physical anthropology, archaeology, and cultural anthropology. Students also now have access to an undergraduate research space, where they can study teaching collections and equipment used by faculty to conduct archaeological and anthropological research for private companies and state entities.
Criminal justice students are benefitting with a new lab designed with furniture that replicates a courtroom for scenario-based learning activities. .
“These spaces allow us to go deeper with our teaching and learning to engage students with a more realistic and more practical set of experiences,” said Cripps. “It will help make classes more fun and engaging for students and faculty alike.”