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CMU trustees approve high-tech classrooms in College of Science and Technology

Board meeting also touches on health care and wellness highlights

Contact: CMU News

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees today took measures to enhance student learning and success with an active approach to teaching.

Trustees approved the creation of two active learning classrooms in the Dow Science Complex. Through state-of-the-art technology, students will spend their class time collaborating on assignments and problem solving rather than listening to lectures. Faculty become coaches and guides instigating thoughtful discussions and debates. Often, students watch faculty members’ online lectures before each class session begins.

Studies have shown that such settings allow students to learn up to three times more and retain greater knowledge. Active learning also is proven to increase the likelihood that students in STEM disciplines will continue in those programs and removes the gap between the success of male and female students.

Ian Davison, dean of the College of Science and Technology, told board members during a committee meeting Wednesday that a CMU chemistry course combining traditional classroom with active learning strategies is already showing impressive gains.

Chemistry 132, taught by faculty member Estelle Lebeau, requires students to take the American Chemical Society exam at the end of the course. Past student scores have been in the 45th to 55th percentile nationally. After Lebeau implemented the active learning concept for the first time last summer, scores improved to the 74th percentile.

The board approved the $1.5 million needed for remodeling and purchasing the active learning technology for Dow rooms 108 and 135, which accommodate 56 and 112 students respectively. The enhancements will be completed by fall to teach a wide range of courses for College of Science and Technology students.

The College of Medicine already has an active learning classroom at CMU. Click here to see it in action.

Trustees also were briefed on the university’s health care and wellness programs, which have earned CMU recognition as one of Michigan’s 2013 Healthiest Employers.

Lori Hella, assistant vice president for Human Resources, told trustees that the university’s self-insured health plan has allowed CMU employees and the university to avoid $14 million dollars in costs the past six years through lower premiums.

In addition to an increase in the health of employees, CMU has seen a 0.2 percent decrease in prescription drug costs, while the national average increased 6.3 percent. Medical plan costs increased 4 percent compared to a national average increase of 8.2 percent.

Importantly, employees are participating in a record number of wellness activities. Their efforts are paying off: a record number of employees are showing a “low health risk” rating on their annual health risk assessment.

In other board action, trustees:

  • Authorized President George E. Ross to ratify collective bargaining agreements with the Faculty Association, AFSCME Local 158 representing service maintenance employees and the Police Officers Association of Michigan once tentative contracts are negotiated;
  • Learned construction on the Biosciences Building is likely to be done in September 2016, four months ahead of original projections; and
  • Heard an update from President Ross on his budget testimony in Lansing last week and recognized the 50th anniversary of the Board of Trustees. Text of the president’s full comments can be read here.

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