Innovative teaching and active learning are the foundation of Paul Blowers’ teaching philosophy. A university distinguished professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Arizona, he teaches in a space specifically designed for collaborative learning and uses a variety of educational technologies to encourage student engagement and success in his large STEM classes.
Despite the benefits of his classroom set-up, and the range of technologies incorporated into his lessons, Blowers found that some students still were not grasping fundamental concepts. This was clear every time his students attempted to solve multi-step problems assigned during class.
“I would give students a very long time to do an activity,” he said. “The good students would finish it. The struggling students would make a good, serious attempt to solve the problem, but would never make it to the end.”
Blowers had all of the pieces in place for active learning, but he lacked the real-time data necessary to track student understanding and to assess where they were encountering stumbling blocks.