Interactive, Learning-Centered Methods of Teaching

Salar Alsardary, Ph.D.,

Unviersity Of Sciences in Philadelphia

Phyllis Blumberg, Ph. D.,

Unviersity Of Sciences in Philadelphia, &
Author of Developing Learning-Centered Teaching, (2009) Jossey-Bass


    A team of colleagues modeled an interactive learning situation while discussing and evaluating the semester-long model used by Salar.

    This observer believes the success of the model is in the heart of the presenters.

    It is likely the average session participant was not aware that the session modeled one ideal classroom procedure that provides interactivity. To him /her it might have seemed as this is just the way professionals act. It was classroom interaction well-modeled by professional interactions. But, according to many presenters of "The Teaching Professor Conference," shared power (and responsibility) is not normally found in the college classroom.

    I say "success is in the heart of the presenters" because not every professor has the heart to share the power or to change a teaching style to share the power. These presenters believed in their model and in the advocacy of shared power.

Individual Time on Task

    Phyllis' work provided the meat of the interactive lesson, the vehicle for engaging the participants, the message or "lesson for the session."

    Groups of five were formed.

    A summary of her "Dimensions of a Lesson" was distributed to each person and we were asked to independently review the material and to decide on which of the five dimensions we wished to review and present to other members of the group.

    The "Dimensions of a Lesson" include:

Function of Content
Role of the Instructor
Responsibility for Learning
Processes and Purposes of Assessment
Balance of Power (control issues)

Sharing, Empowering A Group

    Research completed, we in turn presented a summary of our "Dimension" so each member did not need to review each dimension.

    Discussion followed.

Empowering the Student

    The practical act of passing the microphone to a student is symbolic as well. Power is passed to the a member of the community.

    Each group member read the entire "Dimensions" document and reported on one dimension. Each group reflected and analysed the entire document. Once the groups joined the large group, a community of scholars was in fact meeting as a whole.

Leading the Community


    The session presenters still had ultimate control and leadership responsibility, but now the presenters lead a group of scholars, not just professed to an audience.

Sharing within the Community

    The community established, the task of examining a sample of a semester-long "Interactive, Learning-Centered Method" was explained.

    The task achieved two goals:

  • Provide another review of the session material
          Thusfar everyone had reviewed the entire Model presented on paper. Then the entire model was reviewed orally as presented by each member of a group. This critique of Salar's work would force use to again individually revisit the work to support our individual evaluation.
  • Provide an extended, expanded, model of the Interative, Learing Centered Model
          We were experiencing the model as we worked, though this may not have been apparent to all. This was a version of the model that could work on a daily basis. Now we would consider the model expanded to the entire semester -- the power sharing, the existance of a community of experts, the impact on grading as well as presentation.

Displaying Enthusiasm & Passion in Teaching

    Salar teachers math -- not exactly the topic one would choose to employ shared power and interactivity, but, Salar also chose his course well.

    The Unviersity Of Sciences in Philadelphia has very able students and Salar's seminar is on advanced topics in math -- the kind very able people take for pleasure as well as for credit.

    Course requirements include: presenting an entire chapter (to the class with a prior conference with the instructor), grading of presentation by the students listening to the presentation, and presentation of a paper at the local MAA (Mathematics Association of America) meeting.

    Yes, the class is often small. Yes, some students need more work on their material before class presentation. Yes, Salar has made this committment in order to make the course interactive. Yes, his committment to his work and students comes through.

Providing Claificiation while Honoring An Opinion


    Everyone was attentive to his description. Many questioned how the format could work, and from my viewpoint, how they could make parts of the format if not the entire format work in their own situation.

    There was at least one from the freshly made comminuty of experts who questioned a part of Salar's model. Salar answered the point with respect for the model, the question, and the poser of the question.

Honoring the Feedback, Sharing the Power

    Clarification of the semester-long model complete, we returned individually and then in group to an analysis of Salar's model using a rubric designed using the Interactive, Learning-Centered Model.

Creating Experts on Specific Topics

    After individual and group analysis, we again became experts and held a community discussion.



    Phyllis Blumberg's Interactive, Learning-Centered Method of Teaching was both modeled and analysed in the session and through Salar Alsardary's semester-long math seminar.

    Content, instructor and learner roles and responsibilities, assessment, and power sharing are each factors in the model.

    Through this session they demonstrated how to:

Introduce and Build A Community
Spend Individual Time on Task
Share to Empower A Group
Empower the Individual
Lead the Community
Share With the Community
Display Enthusiasm & Passion in Teaching
Provide Claificiation As You Honor An Opinion
Honor the Feedback, Share the Power
Create Experts not just Educated Students

© 2009, A. Azzolino