Spreading the practice of active learning

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“Getting out of your own world, an academic silo setting, and learning how other disciplines, other professors and other students operate has been absolutely invigorating because it forces you to challenge your own assumptions about your own discipline.”

Erik Knutsen, Professor, Queen’s University Faculty of Law

Spreading the practice of active learning

When Erik Knutsen, a Professor in Queen’s University Faculty of Law, redesigned three of his courses to incorporate active learning and student engagement, it was only the beginning of his work.

Knutsen re-designed his courses by putting himself in the shoes of his students and finding ways to give them a real experience to develop the key skills they will need as lawyers. Instead of only reading case law to learn how to select an expert witness in a lawsuit, for instance, Knutsen gives students the resumes of actual expert witnesses and asks them to defend their qualifications.

Knutsen has not stopped with law courses. He has also brought his passion for active learning and student engagement to his role as a founding member of the teaching team for the Masters of Science in Healthcare Quality program. The program on patient safety is for mid-career health care professionals and is a joint effort between the School of Nursing, School of Medicine, Faculty of Law, Smith School of Business, School of Policy Studies, and Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Thanks to Knutsen’s work, the practice of active learning is spreading at Queen’s University. And for these efforts, Knutsen received the 2018 Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award.