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Northwest Missouri State University


Alice Foose

Alice Foose

Dr. Alice Foose, Associate Professor
Health & Human Services Department
Collaborative Classroom

Faced with a common dilemma of how to engage ever increasing enrollments in the traditional classroom, Dr. Alice Foose realized that subtle changes to the traditional classroom made a significant impact. Most classrooms are setup with rows of desks and chairs and the teacher station at the front of the classroom. This is not the case in Dr. Alice Foose’s classroom in Martindale Hall 302. In the spring of 2013, Dr. Foose made the decision to redesign this classroom space to accommodate the use of collaborative and engaging learning through technologies and learning space design. She received support through an Improvement of Teaching & Learning grant offered via the Provost’s Office to help fund the redesign.

Dr. Foose’s teaching philosophy centers on learning about changing and expanding behavior through opportunities. Foose believes that “the ultimate goal of teaching is to cultivate skills within people to see possibilities, solve problems, and actively engage in finding better ways of living with others. At the heart of all teaching is creating an environment for students to change."

This philosophy along with her background in learning styles motivated her to redesign the classroom to engage larger sections of students in the content through collaboration. Her classroom consists of rectangular shaped tables and chairs that are on wheels to allow for flexibility in configuration. A projector and teaching station is positioned near the front of the classroom along with a document camera. Unique to the classroom design are clear dry erase boards. These boards extend a few inches from the wall all around the room which provides students with the opportunity to place models of concepts behind the clear board and make markups on the outside of the board. Large clips are also provided for students to clip documents to the inside or outside of the board. The panels consist of non-glare Plexiglas which allows images to be projected onto the panels without glare. Although there are many uses for the boards, the clear erase boards mainly have been used during class to develop models and as a review tool.

A typical class session involves finding out where students are at with their learning and then building from these frameworks. Some of the ideas and information developed on the clear erase boards stays there for the entire semester as a reference for the students and a building block for additional learning. Various graphic and kinesthetic activities are incorporated during class time to encourage students to move around and draw the disengaged students into full engagement.

Groups are used in this classroom setting to promote discussion and conversation. The mobility of the desks and chairs provides a flexible way to easily move students into groups of 4-5 students per group. This smaller size of group helps to keep all students involved in the discussions. Students have enjoyed the learning space so much that they have been using the space as a study area outside of regular class time.

Dr. Foose is an Associate Professor in the Health & Humans Sciences Department. If you are interested in learning more about how Dr. Foose teaches in this new collaborative classroom, contact her at afoose@nwmissouri.edu or x-1300 or the CITE Office at ltcite@nwmissouri.edu and x-1532.