Centenary professor wins grant to create unique classroom space
SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary students returning in August will be able to utilize an innovative new learning space thanks to a project funded by a Louisiana Board of Regents Departmental Enhancement grant. Dr. Amy Hammond, associate professor of psychology and chair of the psychology department, wrote the grant to convert a traditional lecture-oriented classroom in the Centenary Square building into a Flexible Learning Environment for dynamic and collaborative learning activities.
“Over the past several years, my colleagues and I have identified the need to have classroom space that can be easily and quickly rearranged into different configurations, sometimes even within the same class period,” says Hammond. “Our new Flexible Learning Environment will accommodate not just lecture delivery but also a variety of small and large group discussions and other non-lecture classroom activities. Faculty using the space will be able to employ a variety of different pedagogical techniques within the same class period, which keeps students more engaged.”
Centenary’s psychology department has adopted more enhanced teaching and learning techniques as pedagogy has evolved, including flipped classrooms and hands-on activities. As Hammond explained in the grant proposal, these techniques work best in a learning environment that can quickly adjust between learning tasks such as lecture, discussion, and small group work.
The Centenary Square Flexible Learning Environment project involves removing an existing wall to increase the available classroom space, improving the existing projection and audio systems, painting several classroom walls with whiteboard paint, and purchasing wheeled tables and chairs that will allow faculty and students to quickly change the room’s configuration. In the past, instructors who tried to accommodate different pedagogical styles and learning activities often had to use instructional minutes to reconfigure classrooms. In some cases, back-to-back scheduling prevented any reconfiguration at all.
Work on the new Flexible Learning Environment space began in early June and is scheduled to be finished in time for the 2018 fall semester. While the classroom will be primarily used by the psychology department, it will be available for use by faculty and students in other academic disciplines as well. Hammond also hopes that the space will inspire changes in other classrooms on campus.
“As the campus develops its new Campus Master Plan over the next several years, we hope that the proposed Flexible Learning Space will serve as a model for how classrooms across campus can be designed to support innovative pedagogical methods and flexible switching between classroom layouts to support a variety of learning goals,” wrote Hammond in the Board of Regents grant proposal.