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From PSYC4P07 Winter 2013: Group 01
 Unconventional Curriculum
 Hands On Learning
 Active Lectures
We have all been there. Sitting in lecture, with your professor at the front of the class spewing loads of information at you in his monotone voice and you slouched down in your seat at the back trying not to fall asleep. We know, lectures are boring and monotonous and no one just wants to go, But what if we could make attending lectures and class fun again? Would students be more willing to attend and actually pay attention? If students actively participated in lectures in would be much more beneficial to their own learning and it would make the lecture hall a better place to be. Studies have shown that students who actually come to class, participate and contribute to the discussion retain information longer and have much better attitudes towards the class in general (Cavanagh, 2011). New ideas have been evolving in order to get students more involved in their classes and to make the learning experience more valuable to them. Throughout the years, students and teachers alike have learned that the class can become much more rewarding if the students actively participate during the class. Some teachers have even taken it upon themselves to get the students discussing amongst each other about what they have learned, or better yet have the students perform activities during the class itself in order to improve understanding (Cavanagh, 2011). Students like having the active involvement within class because it allows for them to discuss with their peers about the topics they are learning and they can formulate a better understanding of what is being taught (Cavanagh, 2011).
 Hybrid Courses
In recent years, a new form of teaching has become popular. This form of teaching is known as a hybrid or web based course. It involves the compilation of both the traditional lecture based form of teaching as well as using on line tools (Cavanagh, 2011). This allows for a lot more flexibility and different ways of learning for the students because they get both the face to face contact with their peers and teachers as well as the individual learning that they need to succeed (Cavanagh, 2011). With the help of web based tools, this learning can be enhanced and allow for students to spend time learning the information with different tools.
 Labs: Hands On, Simulation and Remote
A new type of learning that has recently become popular in science and engineering type courses is the use of simulation and remote control laboratories (Jara et al., 2011 & Corter et al., 2011). Experimentation within a laboratory setting is very important to learning because it allows students to take the theories that they have learned in the classroom and to apply them to real life situations (Jara et al., 2011 & Corter et al., 2011). While using the hands on experimentation in the labs, it allows the students to get hands on experience with working with these machines that they will be using in the future (Jara et al., 2011 & Corter et al., 2011). The problem with using the hands- on machines is that the are very costly to bring into the schools, they take up a lot of space at the university and only a certain subset of individuals are able to actually use them (Jara et al., 2011 & Corter et al., 2011). Students prefer to use the simulation and remote controlled labs because they are able to do these at their own time and pace and they do not have to take the time of setting up and taking down the machine (Jara et al., 2011, & Corter et al., 2011). Though with the flexibility of the computer based simulations comes a cost, these types of labs do not allow for a lot of feedback or face to face interaction with their peers or teachers; so if they are not doing something properly they will not know right away (Jara et al., 2011 & Corter et al., 2011). They are many benefits that come along with the in class hands on labs, such as the face to face contact with their peers. With this face to face contact students are able to make more group collaborations and this will improve the effectiveness of the lab itself and allow for the students to have a better understanding of what they are learning (Jara et al., 2011 & Corter et al., 2011).
Thus we know that in order for students to get the most out of classes teachers need to make sure that the lectures are fun and interactive for the students. If this criterion is met then the students will become more involved in what they are learning and will have more motivation for the class and will also benefit from understanding the material more. The benefit of face to face contact is that students are able to get complete and instant feedback as well as being able to discuss with their peers their thoughts about the material.
 Notes and References
Cavanagh, Michael. (2011). Students’ experiences of active engagement through cooperative learning activities in lectures. Active Learning in Higher Education, 12(1). 23-33. doi:10.1177/1469787410387724
Corter, James E., Esche, Sven K., Chassapis, Constantin, Ma, Jing & Nickerson, Jeffrey V. (2011). Process and learning outcomes from remotely-operated, simulated, and hands-on student laboratories. Computers and Education,(57). 2054-2067. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.04.009
Jara, Carlos A., Candelas, Francisco A., Puente, Santiago T. & Torres, Fernando. (2011). Hands-on experiences of undergraduate students in automatics and robotics using a virtual and remote laboratory. Computers and Education, (57). 2451-2461. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.07.003
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