Project Title: Assessing the Impact of Active Learning Spaces on Development of Career-Ready Soft Skills Project Description
According to the National Association for Colleges and Employers, today’s employers highly rank two essential attributes that graduates need for success: problem-solving skills and ability to work in teams. Higher education institutions have adopted evidence-based pedagogical strategies to build these essential soft skills. To enhance these pedagogical paradigm shifts, campus planners, in conjunction with a suite of vital stakeholders, have redesigned campus learning spaces to optimize learning-centric methodologies that focus on developing and honing marketable, career-ready skills. These initiatives re-conceive conventional ‘row and column’ classrooms into spaces that optimize collaborative, real world environments through use of flexible furniture and technologies. These spaces allow instructors and students to easily toggle between different teaching and learning modalities, prioritizing student-to-student interactions as opposed to traditional instructor-centric or lecture-based approaches. But what is the evidence to support that these non-traditional physical spaces enhance soft skills and career-readiness in graduates?
Jeffrey Ashley (Ph.D. Environmental Chemistry from University of Maryland at College Park) is in his 16th year at Thomas Jefferson University (formerly Philadelphia University) as a full professor. Ashley received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award in 2012 recognizing his innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Most recently, Ashley was designed the Coordinator of Philadelphia University’s Active Learning Space Initiative, which aims to optimize faculty members’ active, real-world, and collaborative pedagogies by designing mindful learning spaces to optimize those teaching and learning strategies. In 2015, he was appointed the Director of the Center for Teaching Innovation and Nexus Learning with the mission of supporting and nurturing faculty members’ experimentation and innovation in teaching approaches that deepen student learning. He is an adamant believer that innovative learning spaces can optimize learning-centric approaches to teaching and continues to lead his campus goal of overhauling traditional learning spaces.