Transform, Interact, Learn, and Engage: Sociology in TILE Classrooms
In 2010, in an effort to encourage student-centered teaching, the University of Iowa created the TILE (“transform, interact, learn, engage”) program. Since then, UI instructors have offered over 700 courses in TILE classrooms. To join the TILE program, instructors must become TILE certified. TILE classes take place in specially designed rooms that offer round tables that seat nine students each and are equipped with technology that facilitates active and collaborative learning, such as monitors for screen sharing, projectors, and whiteboards.
To practice more interactive teaching, many professors in our department have used TILE classrooms. Professor Bruch, for example, used a TILE classroom for “Policy Matters: Perspectives on Contemporary Problems,” one of five “Big Idea Courses” offered at the University. Professor Bruch’s students engaged in extensive group work to collectively come up with solutions to different sociology problems.
Professor Bianchi, who has taught over 10 TILE classes, was a part of the original class of TILE instructors trained in the summer of 2010. One course that Professor Bianchi regularly teaches in a TILE classroom is her “Research Methods” course. In this course, Professor Bianchi aims to provide students with a hands-on experience in designing research projects. Professor Bianchi found that teaching “Research Methods” in the TILE classroom resulted in an almost 20% increase in student grades. In addition, she found that students gained skills in effectively working in groups.
Research has shown that TILE classrooms can enhance collaborative, problem-based, and team-based learning, while traditional classrooms are less effective in fostering these skills. The Sociology faculty who are a part of the TILE program emphasize that TILE classrooms, while technologically advanced compared to other classrooms on campus, are about much more than just technology. Ultimately, the TILE experience is about teaching students how to actively learn and develop their group skills.