Public Affairs, The California State University

Preparing Teachers to Engage Millennial Students

By Stephanie Thara

Students using technology The CSU is committed to preparing new and existing teachers to engage the twenty-first century learners with new technological, academic experiences. By redesigning the classroom into an interactive learning environment, students are able to gain a more comprehensive grasp on the materials being taught in class, which gives them the foundation they need to thrive scholastically and beyond.

Recently, the CSU received a $1.5 million grant from the James Irvine Foundation to give educators the tools needed to become proficient in Linked Learning—project-based learning that integrates classroom instruction with practical applications found in career settings. Linked Learning is a wholly engaging experience and introduces students to career and college opportunities through rigorous core curriculum, work-based learning, instructional support services and coursework that blends career and academic study.

CSU Long Beach provided a pathway where doctoral candidate Felicia Anderson was able to explore Linked Learning and discover how small-group project-based, team learning influences educational experiences at a local high school. Anderson’s education at CSULB gave her the tools needed to successfully implement her research in Linked Learning, to help enhance student success.

Additionally, CSU faculty recognize that millennial students are so engaged in the fast-paced Internet era that it leads them to desire answers instantly and be able to easily explore the multiple options for an answer. By integrating concepts such as flipped learning, CSU faculty are introducing future educators to different approaches of effective teaching and, simultaneously, preparing students to become good teachers.

At CSU Monterey Bay, faculty members are promoting innovation in teaching and learning through flipping their classrooms. The technology-driven teaching method—also known as the “inverted classroom”—flips the traditional model of classroom lecture and exercises for homework to the lecture becoming the homework and class time being used for problem solving.

“The inverted classroom supports the notion that instructors are more than just lecturing machines,” said CSUMB Math Professor Rachel Esselstein, who flipped her classes in 2010. “We can share our passions and excitement for the material when we are allowed to interact with the students rather than just lecture at them.”

Dedicated to improving student success, the CSU launched eAcademies to bring together faculty from across the system to share instructional strategies and technologies to boost student achievement. During these mini-conferences, professors discuss how to incorporate proven course redesign practices, such as lecture capture/online videos, online homework and supplemental instruction, active learning/smart classrooms and other adaptive learning tools.

The CSU is helping educators explore different ideas of how to harness technology to enhance student learning. By practicing Linked Learning, understanding flipped classrooms or being exposed to techniques discussed in the eAcademies, current and future teachers are able to create active learning environment where their students can interact with their peers and exercise critical thinking skills.