Rensselaer to Assess Diverse Learning Styles With Help From GE Fund

February 14, 2001

Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer has begun a new research project to increase learning effectiveness in its core engineering courses by using its extensive information technology infrastructure to help faculty better account for different student learning styles.

The initiative began today with the presentation of a two-year $300,000 Learning Excellence in Engineering grant from the General Electric Fund. With the funds, Rensselaer will study and strengthen student learning through educational technology. Rensselaer faculty will supplement the studio model created at Rensselaer with new curricula design and interactive modules developed to address diverse cognitive and learning styles.

“We are in the silent movie era of educational technology,” said Gary Gabriele, Rensselaer vice provost and one of the leaders of the initiative. “Rensselaer saw the technological breakthrough of studio classrooms, but we know we can push the technology even further. The GE Fund has been a strong supporter of many of our education initiatives, including our new O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Lab, and we’re grateful for their help in this truly groundbreaking effort.”

In conjunction with the engineering faculty, the Anderson Center for Innovation in Undergraduate Education, and the Academy of Electronic Media, Rensselaer will develop course materials that will allow students access to course materials, lectures, instructional modules, and assessment materials through their own computers. Since 1999, Rensselaer has required incoming students to own a laptop computer.At the end of the two-year project, a “Next Generation Studio Classroom” model will be investigated that will combine distributed learning with enhanced classroom experiences.

Joyce Hergenhan, president of the GE Fund, noted, “Every day we see the tremendous changes and opportunities brought about by technology, globalization, and other forces that require creativity and the ability to think in a boundaryless fashion. The Learning Excellence grants support the same kind of transformation of the teaching and learning process, with clear results in terms of student learning.”

The GE Fund, the philanthropic foundation of the General Electric Company, invests in improving educational quality and access and strengthening community organizations in GE communities around the world. All told, GE, the GE Fund, and GE employees and retirees contributed nearly $100 million to community and educational institutions in 2000. For more information on the GE Fund, visit

Contact: Patricia Azriel
Phone: (518) 276-6531
E-mail: N/A

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