Physics Professor Experiments with an Active Learning Environment

Bruce Anderson, full professor and associate chair in the Department of Earth & Environment, wanted to solve the problem of making a multidisciplinary course accessible to students from multiple fields of study and with widely varying skill and background.

With guidance and funding from BU’s Center for Teaching & Learning and technology assistance from the Educational Technology team, professor Anderson enabled his students to master lecture material outside of class, so they could come prepared for discussion and exercises in-class.

Over a single summer, Anderson converted a semester’s worth of material into about 50 recorded, online lectures that students would watch outside of class.

Anderson editing the moduleOnline quizzes and exercises were also built into the Blackboard curriculum.

When students came to class, Anderson provided an additional exercise in blue book format so he could assess how well each student was understanding the material.

Now Anderson has greater opportunity to interact with his students and can do so at their pace, rather than the pace mandated by the enormous quantity of content to be covered in a single semester.

Anderson working on a module“Not once during the semester did I feel like I was clawing to catch up, that I was missing out on giving them some of the material, that somehow I was letting them down because of time limitations,” said Anderson. “This has been one of the most rewarding teaching experiences that I’ve had at BU.”

Check out the full story and video on Professor Anderson’s course transformation!