Grant Provides Extreme Makeover for Mathematics Learning Space
By Mark Kramer
The extreme makeover of a University of Houston-Downtown classroom is set to transform students’ learning experiences in mathematics. Thanks to a $132,000 grant from Steelcase Education, a traditional learning space in Room N602 of the One Main Building has been reimagined into an Active Learning Classroom, which will be utilized by mathematics classes engaging in Inquiry Based Learning.
As a product of a Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) project led by mathematics professors Dr. Judith Quander and Dr. Timothy Redl, UHD was one of four institutions nationwide that received the grant.
“This grant is providing UHD a space that is a perfect fit toward the implementation of this teaching model by faculty in the math department,” said Dr. Gregory Dement, CTLE Director and principal investigator on the grant.
Through the inquiry-based method of instruction, professors use questions, problems and scenarios to help students learn through individual thought and investigation.
Redl said the Active Learning Classroom’s modern and innovative design features allow for easy movement of tables and chairs throughout the room, inviting collaboration and group work as part of inquiry-based learning.
“The new classroom is designed to provide a friendly and welcoming environment for our students,” Redl said. “We hope that these features, those that you typically do not see in a traditional classroom, will be beneficial in alleviating math anxieties that our students might possess.”
The learning space also includes personal whiteboards throughout the room, giving students opportunities to engage with their classmates and the instructor. A mural on the west wall of the classroom also provides inspirational words and quotes for those engaged in studying and learning mathematics.
“The University of Houston-Downtown was chosen as a recipient of this grant because of a demonstrated commitment to active learning,” said Jami Moyer of Steelcase Education. “Research shows that space impacts behavior, and these classrooms will help a new group of teachers/professors and students explore the learning possibilities an interactive space can bring.”
Along with receiving funding for the classroom renovation, UHD will receive training from Steelcase on how to use their new spaces and will have the opportunity to share insights and best practices with all awarded schools. Over the two-year program, Steelcase Education and the UHD grant team will partner together to conduct assessments and research on the impact of the newly designed space.
“We are very appreciative to Steelcase Education for this grant award,” Redl said. “Several of our mathematics faculty at UHD are presently engaged in and passionate about using active learning and inquiry-based learning techniques in our classes, and we are excited to begin teaching in this new space.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 60,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College).
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.