Posters and banners are hung on walls all over the campus of Sam Houston State University that read “Rise and Shine.”
In order to understand what this is, it is important to know the context surrounding it. Every ten years, each university in the country must go through an accreditation process that essentially proves to the government that their university is worthy of federal dollars.
Also, every decade SHSU and every other college in the southern region must send a report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to demonstrate that their faculty have the correct credentials, that they have enough students enrolled, that their courses are sufficient enough to teach, etc.
Another part of this ten-year process is that each of these universities must produce a five-year Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) plan that requires university officials to find something that they believe can be improved on their campus and work towards improving it.
For the next 5 years on the campus of SHSU, that QEP is “Rise and Shine.”
The “Rise and Shine” QEP emphasizes active learning, according to Associate Vice President of Faculty and Student Success Brian Loft.
“What we found was that many studies show that the less time that instructors spend lecturing at students during class, the more students will learn,” Loft said.
This theory of “active learning” aims to keep students engaged during lecture as opposed to forcing them to frantically take notes and absorb no information by the end of the class period.
Though students would reap benefits if professors implemented this technique into their courses, Loft admits that most professors are reluctant or unsure of how to implement such a plan into their lectures.
“We found that a lot of faculty on campus either don’t know how to use active learning methods, or we found that they don’t have the time or knowledge to do it properly, or they aren’t convinced of the benefits of active learning or maybe classrooms aren’t designed to promote that style of learning,” Loft said.
Despite the barriers that seem to be preventing the full implementation of the QEP, the Department of Faculty and Student Success is equipping professors, and their classrooms with the necessary tools and resources they need to make “Rise and Shine” a successful endeavor, according to Loft.
“This QEP’s hope is to impact every faculty member on campus, and by extension, every single student on campus,” Loft said. “We have certain incentives in place for those who have been teaching it, and those who are volunteering to implement it into their lectures. We’re also investing a lot of money in redesigning classrooms to make them more amenable for active learning.”
“Rise and Shine” has been officially marketed since September, and Loft hopes it continues to thrive over the next few years.
“I want more faculty to know the benefits of active learning. I also want more students to recognize when active learning is being used in their classes, and literally seek out instructors that do use active learning,” Loft said.