Funded Projects

In support of Strategic Priorities 1.3 and 1.5, the Office of the Associate Vice-President launched the Active Learning funding initiative in Fall 2017.  We would like to thank all of the applicants for their participation in this new initiative.

For further information on successful proposals, please click on the following links (more coming soon).

Flash Essays

Project Lead: Kathleen Cawsey
Department: English 
Abstract:  Flash essays replace the traditional midterm examination in a large-format classroom. They encourage rapid thinking, critical analysis, and quick writing skills. They also enable students to improve over the course of the term, while avoiding the stress that comes with one big midterm.

Writing Bursts

Project Lead: Kathleen Cawsey
Department: English
Abstract:  Writing bursts get the students writing and responding immediately to the class. Regular, constant writing is essential for developing writing skills; distilling the lecture to its key points develops critical thinking and analytical skills. A bonus is the students will have ready-made notes when exam time comes.

Learning Through Service and Through Food

Project Lead: Kathleen Kevany
Department: Business and Social Sciences
Abstract:  Through providing service to organizations or industry, students will learn about leadership development, leader qualities and demonstrate their leadership skills. Students will have some applied experience with social action process in this service component in a food related topic.  This active learning will require students to reflect on and understand the practice as well as theories of leadership. Students will select 1) a place to serve and 2) a group project for which they will develop and assess impact of their Social Change Plan. Such discoveries can help us contribute.

Problem-based and Case-based Learning in the Environmental Sciences

Project Lead: Amu Mui
Department: Environmental Science Program
Abstract:  Numeracy skills and competency in quantitative analysis are key skills our future environmental scientists need to solve the real-world problems of our time. A new core course in environmental analytics (ENVS3100) seeks to use a problem-based collaborative approach to developing these skills in a low stakes class environment where active learning is prioritized.

Ungraded problem-based exercises framed around current environmental scenarios (e.g, climate change, heavy metal contamination of water, species decline) will be integrated into lecture portions of the course to foster collaborative and investigative problem-solving skills in a low-stakes environment. Applying the constructivist theory of learning, students are free to experiment with different approaches to solving a problem and succeed or fail as an avenue to building new knowledge and advancing numeracy skills.

Dalhousie Agricultural Campus BioBlitz

Project Lead: Paul Manning
Department: Landscape Architecture
Abstract:  We will bring together the Faculty of Agriculture for a 24-hour biodiversity survey of the Agricultural Campus. Students will explore campus with local experts to inventory the organisms that call our campus home. Participating students will gain opportunities to develop skills in taxonomy, observation, and inquiry. By participating, students will develop a greater appreciation for the campus as an ecosystem, improve identification skills, and become familiarized with a powerful digital tool (iNaturalist) for exploring natural history. This event will encourage students to explore, and perhaps gain a new appreciation for the biodiversity that surrounds us on campus and elsewhere. 


Active Learning Approaches for MECH 4650: Biomechanical Engineering

Project Lead: Elise Laende
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Abstract:  MECH4650 provides an overview of biomechanical engineering to mechanical engineering students.  Active learning approaches will be employed through:

  1. Immersive simulations of total joint replacement surgery, providing hands-on experience with medical devices through QEII Simulation Skills Centre sessions.
  2. Case-based learning activity using custom modules for R software to perform data analyses and visualizations to answer questions about biomedical research questions.
  3. A student response system asking students to self-identify in categories related to diversity, with the goal of recognizing how their own identities relate to a global perspective and considering a wide rant of needs in engineering designs.

Entrepreneurship and Digital Skills though Opera Studies

Project Lead:  Estelle Joubert
Department:  Fountain School of Performing Arts
Abstract:  This is a pilot project for a research seminar at the Fountain School of Performing Arts that teaches students the skills required to be successful in a large team-based technical project, whether at a university or a start-up.  Through an interactive incubator-style seminar, students will embark on a sustained project with a graph database/visualization component from idea to dissemination.  Students will select a set of historical sources related to operatic mobilities, devise a research question, collaboratively select the information to be included in the database, develop an appropriate data model, visualize their data, and develop appropriate marketing material to generate an online presence.  Students will have the opportunity to engage with a CEO and junior software developer from compared at Volta, Halifax's innovation hub.  They will also cultivate collaborative problem-solving skills and offer constructive feedback to the peers.

Virtual Exchange Language Project

Project Lead:  Cristina Rafales
Department:  Spanish
Abstract:  We plan to add a virtual exchange component to SPAN 2035, an existing intensive intermediate language class for second year Spanish students. In partnership with the UOC (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain) we will bring together students of Spanish (face-to-face class) at Dalhousie with students of English in Spain (online course) to participate in a Google community and in three recorded video-conferences outside the classroom. This initiative aims to promote intercultural education and collaboration to complete a real-life task. The data collected in the project will be used to measure increase in learners’ motivation to learn a foreign language and improvement of their oral skills.

Engaged Learning Exploring Mi'kmaw Perspectives on Resources and the Environment

Project Lead:  Melanie Zurba
Department:  School of Resource and Environmental Studies
Abstract:  This active learning project will provide students enrolled in the graduate-level course “Indigenous Perspectives on Resource and Environmental Management” (ENV 5039; 3 Credits) with the opportunity to engage in active learning with Mi’kmaw community leaders involved in resources and environmental management. Learning objectives for students will include: (1) developing a deeper understanding of Mi’kmaw culture and perspectives on resource and the environment; (2) learning about different issues and policies affecting Mi’kmaw people’s abilities to participate in resource and environmental management; and (3) relating the concepts from the course to local First Nation resource and environment issues.

Faculty of Science Winter Learning Groups

Project Lead:  Susan Gass
Faculty:  Faculty of Science - All Departments
Abstract:  The Faculty of Science is proposing a pilot course focused on intentional academic planning, co-curricular planning, and career exploration for Winter 2019. This is a non-credit course offered to all first-year science students. It is intended as an opportunity for students to develop their academic and co-curricular plans in advance of the March registration date, and connect them to career planning resources on campus, such as the Bissett Student Success Centre’s (BSSC) Career on Track Program. This course can serve as a follow-up to the First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs) offered to undeclared BSc students in the first semester.


Learner Stories: A strategy for Active Learning and Student Engagement

Project Lead:  Raghav Sampangi
Faculty:  Faculty of Computer Science
Abstract: Active learning facilitates immersive learning experiences by engaging and involving learners in their overall learning and development.  However, these strategies are sometimes considered, (labour-intensive), alternatives to traditional teaching.  We have developed a new strategy named Learner Stories that facilitates quick and easy implementation of active learning strategies in learning events, and helps easily convert passive lectures into active learning opportunities.  In this project, we aim to evaluate this framework of Learner Stores in engaging students in the classroom.  In the long-term, we wish to employ and evaluate the effectiveness of this framework in all aspects of an educational program. 


Student Exhibition

Project Lead:  Shauntay Grant
Department:  English (Creative Writing Program)
Abstract:  CRWR 2001 Student Exhibition is a multi-media installation created and curated by students enrolled in CRWR 2001: The Creative Process. In partnership with the  Dalhousie Art Gallery (DAG), students will develop a themed body of original artwork that synthesizes their academic and research interests with the creative arts (e.g. visual arts, literary arts). The installation will be a feature part of the 2018 Dalhousie Art Gallery’s Student, Staff, Faculty & Alumni Exhibition, which opens December 6th at the gallery.

Online Peer Review of Scientific Community using "Aropa"

Project Lead:  Sarah Wells
Department:  Medical Sciences
Abstract:  We propose to use the web-based tool “Aropa” to manage peer-review of oral and written communications in our Medical Sciences courses SCIE 4005 (Capstone) and SCIE 4900 (Honours). The software not only provides rapid, consolidated feedback to students, it allows for peer review practice, “review marking” (students reviewing reviews from their peers), and a mechanism to give participation grades. Use of this tool will require students to actively engage with—and internalize—assessment criteria and standards, fostering critical thinking and creating a more collaborative learning environment. Evaluation will be assessed by a pre- and post-course survey.


Think, pair, share and Team based learning using Immediate Feedback-Assessment Technique (IF-AT) cards...

Adding value to classroom time through engaging in-class activities: Think, pair, share and Team based learning using Immediate Feedback-Assessment Technique (IF-AT) cards in an anatomy classroom

Project Lead:  Thejodhar Pulakunta
Department:  Medical Neuroscience
Abstract:  To make anatomy lectures engaging and interactive and to instill the seeds for scientific thinking, application and analysis, we will employ two methods in the classroom.

1. Modified think, pair and share:

During the lecture, at the end of each learning concept, clinical vignette based MCQs are presented to the class using the TopHat. Students try to answer these by themselves after which they discuss their choice with a neighbor.  This will be followed by a mini lecture (under 5 minute explanation) by the instructor.

2.  Immediate feedback –Assessment Technique IF-AT forms.

During review sessions after students answer MCQs they discuss their answers  in small groups and use the IFAT scratch cards to arrive at the correct answer,