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Renovated classrooms in Ellis Hall will promote active learning

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

Renovations currently underway in Ellis Hall will see three underutilized classrooms transformed into state-of-the-art spaces to promote active learning. The new classrooms are designed to facilitate interaction between students, to enable small groups of students to work collaboratively, and to allow groups to communicate with the rest of the class and their instructor.

“Fostering active learning is a priority for Queen’s, and one of the recommendations in the 2013 report by the Senate Academic Planning Task Force,” says Brenda Ravenscroft, Associate Dean Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Arts and Science. “These renovated classrooms will open up new possibilities for teaching and learning by providing the room design, furniture and technology necessary for a wide range of active learning strategies.”

 The design for Ellis Hall room 333 shows how round tables that seat six students each will provide the connectivity for students to collaborate in groups. Each table will have its own wall-mounted interactive display board.

Each of the new classrooms will feature a different configuration: room 319 will be equipped with moveable seating that can be rearranged easily during a class; room 333 will have round tables that seat six and wall-mounted interactive display boards for each table; and room 321, the largest room, will feature tables for eight and display monitors for at each table.

The renovations happening in Ellis Hall are made possible by philanthropic support to the Initiative Campaign, and are part of a larger project to inform the future development of teaching space at Queen’s.

“Research has demonstrated that active learning can improve students’ understanding of course material and enhance critical thinking skills,” says Andrew Leger, Associate Professor and an Educational Developer in the Centre for Teaching and Learning, who is involved in the Ellis Hall project. “We will work closely with instructors using these classrooms to evaluate how the new rooms facilitate their course delivery and what the impact is on student learning. It’s a research project that will inform how we design classrooms at Queen’s in the future.”

The new classrooms are expected to be ready for classes in January 2014. Faculty who would like more information on the Ellis Hall project or on incorporating active learning strategies into their classes are invited to contact Dr. Leger.

A recently launched website provides more information on the Ellis Hall active learning classroom project, including the designs for the new spaces. An image gallery, below, shows the progress of the renovations.