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The Center for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching, and University Assessment

Community of Practice on Engaged Learning

Develop your own engaged learning approach

What is the aim of the engaged university?

An engaged university allows students to reach a level of maturity we call "self-authored". Self-authored individuals have the ability to critically evaluate evidence, construct new knowledge, make informed judgments and act ethically.

Self authorship cultivates capacities essential to succeeding as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, educators, business leaders, artists, and professionals of all kinds.

This story from Carol illustrates the transformation toward self-authorship that an engaged university can promote

While at Miami, I studied to be a middle school mathematics teacher. During my first two years, I thought that the best way to learn math was by spending hours doing practice problems and figuring out the right approach from my professors and textbooks. I thrived in math classes where the instructor gave lots of problems and then provided the answers. After the professor told the class how to do the problems, I focused on learning the right steps and repeating this routine over and over again. As I advanced in my studies, though, I realized I had been learning how to do the problems, but not understanding why. As a senior, I enrolled in a math class in which I had to work with others to discover and invent ways of solving new problems and to explain why my methods worked. While this proved challenging for me at first, I came to ask the "why" question on my own. Gradually, I realized that I can learn best through questioning my processes, exploring why I am approaching problems in certain ways, making conjectures, and proving or disproving these conjectures through interacting with others. Now as a 7 th grade teacher, I have designed my math classes around explorations that guide students toward understanding the reasons mathematics works.1

Think about a student with whom you have worked who demonstrated a high degree of maturity and ability. What was his or her journey through college? What experience helped him or her develop this degree of maturity and ability?


  1. Adapted from: Stonewater, J.K. (2004). Inquiry Teaching and Learning: The Best Math Class Study. School Science and Mathematics.

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