UA Learning Initiative
The UA Learning Initiative is an approved Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Quality Initiative designed to enhance and support student learning through integrated programs for both faculty and students. These initiatives are focused on leading faculty and students through discussion and activities focused on understanding and using effective strategies that can improve student learning and enhance retention of learned content and concepts.
Effective Strategies include: active involvement of students within the classroom setting; low-stakes testing throughout the semester and better use of technology within the classroom.
The faculty and the students work separately as well as together to increase student learning.
Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs)
Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) focused on discussion about and reform of teaching practices in undergraduate courses are at the core of the Faculty Initiative. The FLCs typically have 6-10 members from a wide variety of disciplines, some with considerable experience using evidence-based teaching strategies and some with very little experience but a high level of interest. The members read and discuss relevant literature including Make it Stick by Brown, Roediger and McDaniel, 2014, and Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James M. Lang, 2016. The members practice implementing new strategies in their classes, conduct peer observations and engage in meaningful dialog about the effectiveness of the various approaches.
Learning to Learn Series
The goal of the Learning to Learn Series is to help UA students become better learners. Each part of the series focuses on one evidence-based learning strategy and provides useful information about it, why the strategy works and how faculty can incorporate simple exercises to teach their students to use such a strategy and become better learners.
Student Advocates for Improved Learning (SAIL) Program
The Student Advocates for Improved Learning (SAIL) Program is the basis of the Student Initiative. In this program, undergraduate students prepare to act as SAIL Fellows by participating in sessions with faculty and other academic professionals where they learn about best practices for learning and retaining knowledge as well as conceptual understanding. Similar to the FLCs, SAIL Fellows study important references including Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Brown, et al., 2014. Once prepared, SAIL Fellows meet with small groups of students to educate them about which study strategies work best (e.g. retrieval practice) and which strategies (e.g. highlighting) don't work as well.
Strategies are available for both faculty and students to improve student learning. Some of the strategies are intended for in the classroom while others are intended for outside of the classroom.
Many books and articles have been published in recent years that make the concepts regarding the science of learning by cognitive scientists and other researchers much more accessible. These resources are frequently referenced by those who want to help students become better learners.
The "Take Charge of Learning" video illustrates the strategies that Student Advocates for Improved Learning (SAIL) Fellows teach their peers during small group sessions.