This evidence-based practice paper explores how to implement aspects of kinesthetic learning in the classroom effectively.
In engineering classrooms, most instructors are good at engaging visually and auditorily with students. However kinesthetic learning, movement with a purpose, has yet to become prevalent. Students passively learn while sitting in their seats as the instructor is up at the front of the room teaching. Even as active learning occurs, such as peer to peer discussions, students are still sitting. Learning science has shown that the brain and physical activity are connected. An active body can lead to an active mind. Significant work has been done on how to create intentional movement in elementary and middle school classrooms, but it is limited in higher education settings.
This paper discusses how an “escape room” learning activity has been implemented and assessed in two small-sized engineering programs, York College of Pennsylvania and Iron Range Engineering. Escape rooms are a physical adventure game to challenge players, where they must solve a series of puzzles to escape the room in a given time limit. In this activity, using movement to review content in preparation for an exam can be thought of as an elaborate rehearsal which often engages in higher order thinking skills and greater sensory input. Students walk around the room to solve various conceptual and numerical/mathematical problems hung on whiteboards in different areas of the room. They gather tokens for the correct problems they solve and receive verbal feedback from the instructor on any misconceptions or errors. Once a student has gathered the required number of tokens, they can “escape” the room. The activity is done individually with students on their feet moving around the room for the entire duration. An adaptation of this activity allows students to work in small groups of four to five to discuss and collaborate to solve the problems. This activity has been conducted once a semester in the Iron Range Engineering program since the Fall 2017 academic year and twice a semester in the York College of Pennsylvania program since the Fall 2018 academic year.
Feedback was collected via student surveys, student and faculty reflections. Preliminary analysis of student feedback and faculty reflections indicates increased learner engagement, enhanced review of technical content and a different type of learning experience. Faculty reflections also noted that the activity helps students to self-identify those concepts they had successfully mastered and those needing more review. This activity has brought value to the overall learning process and will continue to be used to improve teaching and student learning in both programs.
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