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Grant Transforms Learning at PPCC and UCCS

Colorado Springs, Colo. – March 6, 2013 – Students studying history at Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) will no longer learn by just listening to lectures and reading textbooks; they will learn about history by assuming the roles of historic figures with no script or set outcome. This immersive learning approach, called “Reacting to the Past,” helps students gain a deeper understanding of history and how it relates to other fields of study, while also increasing student retention.

“Reacting to the Past” courses were developed at Barnard College. Through elaborate games set in the past, students learn skills—speaking, writing, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership and teamwork—in order to prevail in complicated situations. While students must adhere to the beliefs of the historical figures they have been assigned to play, they must devise their own means of expressing those ideas persuasively, in papers, speeches or other public presentations while pursuing a course of action that will help them win the game.

Glenn Rohlfing, PPCC assistant professor of history, in collaboration with Roger Martinez, UCCS assistant professor of history, were recently awarded the Rocky Mountain Collaboration: A Reacting To The Past Project Grant. Awarded by the Colorado Community College System, this grant allows PPCC and UCCS to develop curriculum using the “Reacting to the Past” model and to conduct a faculty training conference.

“Winning this grant is a milestone in developing an innovative teaching method which engages students actively in their learning across the curriculum and cements partnerships between community colleges and universities, specifically the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado,” said Wayne Artis, PPCC history professor.

A Reacting to the Past Regional Conference will take place at PPCC on April 19 -21, where faculty will learn the curriculum firsthand. In addition, Nicolas Proctor of Simpson College will host a one-day workshop on April 21 to train faculty on how to develop games for the curriculum.

Pikes Peak Community College, in its 45th year of operation, is a two-year college offering associate’s degrees and various certifications in career and technical fields. With four campuses, three military education centers in El Paso county and more than 200 programs of study, PPCC serves approximately 22,000 students annually.