Students benefit from class redesign

Students benefit from class redesign

January 26, 2022

There is little to be learned from the concept of ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’

Fortunately for Alexander Pfeuffer’s students, his investment in the Active Learning Summer Institute through the Center for Teaching and Learning last summer is now paying dividends.

Pfeuffer, an assistant professor of advertising, participated in the CTL program, learning new methods of active teaching for his Advanced Communication Management course, which he took over when he joined the Grady College faculty in 2018.

“The Active Learning Summer Institute inspired me to redesign my course to make use of collaborative tools and techniques,” Pfeuffer said.

Pfeuffer explained that his advertising class size varies between 30 to 50 students and it is important for all the students to interact with one another and with him. These tools help facilitate collaboration in real time and enable more voices to be heard.

The CTL program worked with Pfeuffer to refine his course’s learning outcomes and encourage students to think about and apply concepts. One way he teaches this is instead of having exams that are based on memorization, he presents campaign case studies and asks the students to create alternative solutions and suggestions of how leaders can improve campaigns. Case studies are studied and tweaked throughout the semester, providing ample opportunity for feedback from Pfeuffer.

“The challenge is getting students to engage with active learning,” Pfeuffer said. “It requires more work, but they take away a lot more.”

Several other Grady College faculty have participated in the CTL program, too, including Glenna Read who redesigned her Media Strategy and Activation class and Sabrena Deal who has redesigned several of her design classes to incorporate active learning techniques.

Deal explains that the lessons learned have particularly helped her Foundations of Graphic Communications class, a large lecture course.

“Active learning techniques have made the class an interactive, dynamic course that includes lively discussions because the students shape the course content and case studies by bringing their individual experiences into our course when engaging in the exercises,” Deal said. “This has simplified and strengthened my courses on every level.”