During the last several decades a great deal of research has been done on human learning; the findings of this research have important implications for pedagogy as described in the landmark publication of the National Research Council, How People Learn. While there has been substantial innovation in K-12 education based on human learning research, little has been done in applying research-based learning principles to higher education. It was the purpose of this project to engage faculty members from our member colleges in pursuing research-based innovation to liberal arts teaching and learning. The Teagle-supported innovative pedagogy projects (“collegia”) involved both research universities and consortia of liberal arts colleges; because liberal arts colleges place a central and primary emphasis on the quality of student learning, they are ideal settings not only to implement and assess the learning impact of innovative pedagogies, but also to build communities of shared interest within and across colleges that are committed to improving undergraduate pedagogy.
We called our collegium “Pathways to Learning,” based on the idea that there may be a number of pedagogical “pathways” that can be taken to arrive at a particular learning destination rather than a single “best” approach. As such, our program was designed to make it possible for faculty members to explore alternative research-derived approaches or “pathways” to teaching and learning in undergraduate courses. We created a grant program to support faculty members who sought to apply theory to practice – to design and implement a pedagogical innovation derived from research on how learning occurs, and compare the learning results to those obtained from another, often more traditional method of teaching.