Skip navigation

Teaching Effectiveness Institute

Using Cooperative Activities to Foster Deep Learning and Critical Thinking

Friday, August 15, 2014
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
Capitol Room, Holmes Student Center

by Barbara Millis, Ph.D.


Cooperative Activities

Deep learning emerges from the careful sequencing of assignments and activities "orchestrated" by those who are committed to student learning. Research on deep learning has been ongoing, systematic, and convergent and involves motivating students to acquire a solid knowledge base through active, interactive learning. As James Rhem (1995) has noted in his article Deep/Surface Approaches to Learning: An Introduction (The National Teaching & Learning Forum), students who take a deep approach understand more, produce better written work, remember longer, and have better academic achievements than those students who take a surface approach to learning. Students complete relevant assignments outside of class—for which they are accountable—that help them learn new knowledge by connecting it to what they already know. Because students come to class prepared, class time can be spent productively by having students in pairs or small groups compare their out-of-class products to foster critical thinking and constructive feedback. This highly interactive workshop will help participants to understand how to sequence structured assignments and activities to foster deep learning approaches.

Barbara J. Millis is the former director of teaching centers at the University of Texas at San Antonio, The University of Nevada, Reno, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. She frequently offers workshops at professional conferences such as the Lilly Teaching Conferences and for over 300 colleges and universities. She publishes articles on a variety of faculty development topics such as cooperative learning, peer classroom observations, the teaching portfolio, microteaching, syllabus construction, classroom assessment/research, critical thinking, writing for publication, focus groups, writing across the curriculum, academic games, and course redesign. Barbara has co-authored or edited a number of books.

Tentative Agenda

8:00 a.m.
Check-in, refreshments, and networking
8:25 a.m.
Welcome and introductions
8:30 a.m.
Introduction to cooperative learning and John Bransford's First Key Learning Principle using activities to explore the content
10:30 a.m.
Refreshment break
10:45 a.m.
A look at Bransford's Second and Third Key Learning Principles using activities to explore the content
12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
A look at how cooperative learning promotes critical thinking and deeper learning
2:30 p.m.
Refreshment break
2:45 p.m.
Sample activities using graphic organizers that promote deep learning and a “flipped” classroom
4:00 p.m.
Conclusion and workshop evaluation

Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

Registration Information

This institute is open to NIU faculty, instructors, and SPS & Civil Service staff. Participants will receive institute materials, lunch, and a certificate of participation. Due to the expensive nature of the program and the advance notice needed for arranging food and materials, please register by the deadline and plan to attend the entire day. Advance registration is required.

Registration Deadline: Friday, August 8, 2014. Register here.

After you register, if you are unable to attend, please inform the Center by Monday, August 11, 2014 so that those on the waiting list can be given the opportunity to attend the institute and/or institute costs can be reduced.

Last Updated: 07/16/2014