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Small teaching approach: Expanding


Expanding is based on the theory that allowing students to make a positive difference in the world, immersing them in real-world problems and activities, and encouraging them to think creatively and collectively about all the course logistics creates a powerful learning experience. Expanding encourages you to expand your view of what student learning might look like in your classroom and how you might design and conduct your course. 

How to apply this approach

Activity-Based Learning — Activity-based learning involves fieldwork, public service, community-based research, and internships in conjunction with in-class work. This can be a semester-long endeavor or exist as just a portion of a course. The main principle of this approach is to have the students do what experts or practitioners in the field would do. Service-Learning — Service-learning provides students with tangible opportunities to better their world while learning — providing an authentic source of motivation. The recommended principle behind this approach is to tap into students’ experiences, connections, and expertise. Find groups and individuals on your campus or discipline who can help you connect students to local organizations that need help. Games and Simulations — Kurt Squire, former Professor of Digital Media in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and games researcher at UW-Madison, believes that “games are a good model for introducing a topic and raising interest because they situate content for learners so that they understand why it’s relevant.” One simulation approach is called Reacting to the Past, created by history professor Mark Carnes and comprises role-immersion games. A guiding principle for incorporating games and simulations in your classroom is not to start from scratch, mainly if your discipline can utilize tried-and-tested materials.

Quick Tips

  • Read at least one new book on teaching and learning every year.
  • Join the email list of Faculty Focus or The Chronicle of Higher Education. Read one or two articles each week on teaching research.
  • Attend programs like Active Teaching Lab to hear how others integrate technology into their teaching.
  • Create a personal learning network on Twitter.
  • Attend events on your campus that promote professional development, teaching, and learning.


Lang, James M. Small teaching: Everyday lessons from the science of learning. John Wiley & Sons, 2016. pp.130-142.

Keywordssmall, teaching, inspire, expand stDoc ID117984
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2022-04-14 12:17:53Updated2024-04-16 12:49:07
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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