Active Learning Promotes Non-stop Engagement

As a sought-after industry consultant, Lori Coakley, Ph.D., teaches personal branding, negotiation, and women and leadership. A faculty fellow for the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership, she has published and presented on topics ranging from defense conversion to adaptive leadership to design thinking. Coakley, who has won several teaching awards since joining Bryant in 1993, is also a member of the leadership team that plans Bryant’s annual three-day IDEA program that immerses all first-year students into creative problem-solving and the innovation process.

At a Research and Engagement Day Teaching Slam, Coakley shared her success in using a workshop format to encourage non-stop engagement. Students have the opportunity to dig into a concept and ask questions. She uses her clients’ real-world challenges and opportunities to enrich classroom learning. “I talk with students about these ‘aha’ moments of discovery managers have,” says Coakley, who teaches graduate and undergraduate students.

“There’s time for students to actually reflect on what they think first, and then share their thinking with others,” she says. Students learn from each other, explore the idea in depth, and understand how to apply – in the moment – learning processes, concepts, and problem-solving structures.

“This generates a lot of interaction and conversation, which is why I am excited about the Academic Innovation Center,” she says, noting that in innovative learning spaces, students “are moving around, talking with other groups” and benefiting from the groups’ insight. Throughout the process, a timer keeps the class on task. “My key driving success point,” she says, “is there’s something they actually can use as soon as they walk out the door.”

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