Gaithersburg resident learns firsthand the value of hands-on learning -- Gazette.Net


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Walking blindfolded through a minefield of paper plates, Lily M. Liang of Gaithersburg realized that without trusting the partner giving her verbal directions, she never would make it through.

Liang, a University of District of Columbia computer science professor, said the activity showed her the importance of trust between teachers and students.

She will take what she learned in that fictional minefield, along with other experiential learning activities at the Project Kaleidoscope Summer Leadership Institute this July, and share it with other faculty members at her university.

The institute, in Creston, Colo., brought together early and mid-career faculty who work in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields to discuss innovative teaching techniques for their classrooms, departments and institutions.

Liang said she learned so much from participating in the experimential activities herself that she knows now that hands-on learning activities will work for her students. She also learned that creativity should always be encouraged.

“Students learn so much faster when they are given control,” she said.

Liang, 39, is a rising professor at the college, said Beverly Karplus Hartline, the associate provost and dean of the school of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UDC.

Hartline recommended Liang for the institute.

“[Liang] is a wonderful mentor, and she is also a phenomenal collaborator ... she is just so positive, responsive, full of energy,” Hartline said.