Dr. Jean Abshire, associate professor of political science and international studies, has been selected as an Indiana University Mosaic Fellow.
The Mosaic Initiative supports innovative classroom design, research and active learning in all IU classrooms.
The goals of the Mosaic Initiative are to prepare faculty to teach in active learning classrooms, build a community of faculty members who collaborate to advance their own teaching, promote evidence-based teaching and create faculty leaders.
The Mosaic Fellows program provides selected faculty members an opportunity to engage in active learning practices in their own teaching and with other Mosaic Fellows, as well as contribute towards the development of learning spaces across Indiana University.
Abshire has adopted an active-learning teaching approach based on live-action role-play games. Known as Reacting To The Past (RTTP), these simulations are set in decisive moments when individuals were called upon to make decisions that would shape the course of history. They involve a real change in how courses are taught, and even how classrooms are organized.
“It forces a re-thinking of what teaching and use of classroom space mean,” said Dr. Kelly Ryan, professor of history and dean of the School of Social Sciences. “Faculty must forfeit almost all the control to students and serve as advisors to the educational experience.”
As a Mosaic fellow, Abshire will seek to spur conversations around classroom spatial design and technological tools to support active learning.
“I hope to gain knowledge, ideas, strategies, and tools that I can use in my classes and that I can share with others that will make this game-based learning approach easier to deliver more effectively, to give the students the best possible experiences,” Abshire said.
While working with other RTTP practitioners in the School of Social Sciences, including Dr. Margot Morgan, Abshire will participate in wider efforts to expand its use in other disciplines, and more widely in the IU system.
“My hope is that I can work on this for my classes that include games, but also work with my colleagues in Social Sciences and across campus to help create better foundations for including this type of learning activity in others’ classes as well,” Abshire said.
For Ryan, the fellowship is an important recognition that gives IU Southeast a place at the table when system-wide conversations about innovative teaching and classroom design take place.
“Inspiring students to do their best is both a mental and physical challenge, and Dr. Abshire will bring awareness to the greater IU community about the challenges and successes in engaging in this pedagogy,” Ryan said.