Fostering Intellectual Engagement through Active Learning Series (FIEAL)

 Work with OFE Faculty Leader Patricia Virella on invigorating your teaching and students’ engagement through specific practices that ensure active learning.

The Imperative for Mastering Active Learning Instruction

Today more than ever faculty are finding it challenging to engage students in the intellectual enterprise. Practices that worked well in the past – the Socratic method, appealing content, short assignments – seem not to be working as well today. Faculty report that, while some students are highly engaged, a significant portion of students who are diligent in their class attendance appear to struggle with engagement, suggesting they are present but not learning. 

Clearly the pandemic, its long tail, learning loss and the “development of ineffective learning habits in relaxed circumstances” (Kinzie, 2013), and now Generative AI have encouraged passivity in many students. What’s more, both faculty and student surveys suggest that students are under-engaged, and many are not taking on key activities essential to engaged, active learning. 

The 2021 NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) report indicates that Montclair students can be much better engaged in their learning. Specific areas where we believe Montclair students can do better, as evidenced by the NSSE, include:

Higher Order Thinking
  • 4b: Applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations

Learning Strategies
  • 9a: Identified key information from reading assignments
  • 9b: Reviewed your notes after class
  • 9c: Summarized what you learned in class or from course materials

Reflective Thinking
  • 2a: Combined ideas from different courses when completing assignments 
  • 2d: Examined the strengths and weaknesses of our own voices on a topic or issue
  • 2g: Connecting ideas from your courses to your prior experiences and knowledge

Join OFE and Patricia Virella for our Fostering Intellectual Engagement through Active Learning (FIEAL) series to develop and improve strategies for guiding students in active learning toward intellectual engagement.

The FIEAL Facilitator

Dr. Patricia M. Virella, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, has joined OFE as a Faculty Leader for AY24. Dr. Virella’s research focuses on implementing equity-oriented leadership through leader responses, programmatic interventions, and preparation. Dr. Virella also studies equity-oriented crisis leadership examining how school leaders can respond to crises without further harming marginalized communities. She seeks to answer research questions to enable transformation and liberation in school leaders, districts and policies.


The Series

There are two ways to participate in the FIEAL series:.

  • Join a FIEAL Community of Practice, with twice monthly meeting. Participants, including faculty and staff, will work together to deepen their use of active learning in their courses, documenting and reporting outcomes of their experimentations and reviewing student work.The first FIEAL CoP launched in Fall 2023. Another CoP will launch in Spring 2024. The Spring group will be open to new participants as well as faculty from the fall who wish to work on their practice further. 
  • Attend any or all of the workshops in the series, offered monthly. Attendance is open to all Montclair faculty and staff.


Spring 2024 Community of Practice

Interested in joining the Community of Practice in the Spring of 2024? Meetings will be held on the following Thursdays, from 4:30-5:30: Feb. 22, Mar. 20, Apr. 18, and May 23. Register here!

Spring 2024 workshops

  • January 31 @ 10 am: Using Public Narrative and GenAI to Foster Speaking and Listening Skills
    In this workshop, participants will draw on Marshall Ganz’s public narrative framework to engage students in telling stories that motivate others. They will design assignments that use Generative AI to create presentation decks and speeches, providing learning opportunities for students to present and listen actively to speeches. 
  • February 21 @ 10 am: Using GenAI and Flipped Learning to Engage Students in Experiential Learning
    In this workshop, participants will learn how to design a flipped learning class and use GenAI to create experiential learning and maker spaces for students.
  • March 20 @ 10 am: Reflecting and Improving Critical Thinking with Gen AI
    In this workshop, participants will design learning opportunities for students that encourage critical thinking. They will identify how to create assignments that improve upon a GenAI response by prompting revisions and additions to GenAI output. 
  • April 17 @ 10 am: Planning for Active Learning Next Semester
    In this workshop, participants will create plans to include various active learning instructional strategies in the next semester to foster students’ intellectual engagement.

Fall 2023 Archive: Resources

September 20 @10am: Fostering Intellectual Engagement through Active Learning: An Introduction 
This workshop introduced participants to higher-order thinking skills as a method for increasing intellectual rigor. Participants also discussed the ways to use speaking and thinking as an intellectual engagement strategy.

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October 18 @ 10: Using Peer Feedback as an Instructional Tool
In this workshop, instructors learned how to regularly incorporate peer feedback opportunities for their students in order to increase intellectual rigor and participation.

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November 15 @ 10: Creating Space for Critical Literacy and Reflective Learning
In this workshop, participants learned how to cultivate students’ critical literacy by creating structures to infuse feedback loops and reflective learning.

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Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2024 1:21 pm