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Purdue to take on active learning in new center

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – The Wilmeth Active Learning Center will open next month in the heart of Purdue University’s campus, and it will be used daily by close to 5,000 students and faculty.

But the new learning center will change the way faculty interacts with students.

“This is all the response to an initiative Purdue started about six years ago called ‘Impact,’” said Dean of Purdue Libraries Jim Mullins.

He said this initiative allows the faculty to teach in different ways. At the Wilmeth Active Learning Center, professors will teach active and collaborative learning.

“Rather than standing up and lecturing,” Mullins said.

Library spaces are spread throughout the four-story building. When class is over, the rooms can be used as study spaces.

“During the day, about 40 percent of the building is library space, about 60 percent are classrooms,” said Mullins.

Classrooms were designed to fit a group of 50 students to as large as 300.

Purdue faculty member Michael Fosmire said active learning is beneficial to the professor and the student.

“Having these kinds of classrooms – where it’s easier to circulate, easy to give people individual attention, easy to monitor what’s happening in the groups – is great,” Fosmire said.

So far, 250 professors have modified their courses for active learning. This gives students an opportunity to learn from their peers.

“Rather than having a teacher, an instructor tell them what it is they’re suppose to know as opposed to figuring it out for themselves,” said Fosmire. “And there is that big ‘Ah ha’ moment that sticks with the students a lot better.”

This 164,000-square-foot building sits on the former site of the old power plant.

“There’s a mural right behind me … that shows students with a professor and workers from the power plant,” Mullins said.

He said back then, this was called lab work. Now, it’s known as active learning. Subjects being taught range from physics to English.

“Across the entire curriculum,” said Mullins.

The learning center will be open for the community to explore on Aug. 7.

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