Defiance College awarded new active learning classroom by Steelcase Education

Local institution is among 16 schools and universities receiving new classroom environments aimed at improving student engagement and success.

April 10, 2018

DEFIANCE, Ohio - Defiance College will partner with Steelcase Education to implement personalized learning strategies through the Active Learning Center Grant program, in its fourth annual year. Through this grant, the institution supports both teachers and students by creating an environment that encourages engagement, collaboration and creativity.

Defiance College will renovate classrooms 102 and 103 in Defiance Hall into a state-of-the-art learning environment for students and faculty.   

"The Steelcase grant aligns perfectly with active learning strategies in a number of our largest programs such as business, education, social work and athletic training.  I am thrilled we will be able to use Steelcase's research into learning spaces and learning outcomes at Defiance College for all programs," says Dr. Agnes Caldwell, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs.

Defiance College's award winning submission will use the First Year Experience course to apply research from Carol Dweck and colleagues on growth mindset and active learning strategies. The purpose of this project is to maximize students' perseverance in making the transition to college courses through collaborative activities with other students and professor.  Besides Dr. Caldwell, the Defiance College team includes Dr. Fred Coulter, Dean Mary Ann Studer, and Assistant Dean Lisa Crumit-Hancock.  

"We will be looking at how non-cognitive factors such as motivation, self-regulation, and social skills that make up a growth mindset contribute to student retention and satisfaction when combined with collaborative and creative strategies in a flexible learning space," notes Dr. Coulter.  "We have high hopes for the grant and its impact on our students and faculty."

The grant is valued at approximately $67,000 per classroom and covers the furniture, design, installation and on-site training needed to effectively use the new space.

“We are excited to learn from Defiance College’s innovative and enthusiastic instructors,” said Marisa Sergnese, training and professional development leader at Steelcase Education. “As we share with these faculty members best practices for incorporating the active learning environment into their curriculum, their insights will also inform our research, future products and strategic development to better the educational experience.”

Along with Defiance College, 15 other educational institutions including traditional four-year colleges and universities, a technical and community college, middle and high schools, an independent girls’ boarding school and even a self-proclaimed “UnSchool” were chosen to receive the 2018 Active Learning Center Grant. This year’s grant recipients represent a variety of institution types and learning models, and all are showing a commitment to innovation and improving student outcomes. 

In addition to installing new classrooms, Steelcase will provide training on the uses of the technology and furniture in the new spaces. The recipients will have the opportunity to participate in an annual symposium with all awarded schools to share insights and best practices. Over the two-year program, Steelcase Education and the schools will partner together to conduct assessments and research on the impact of the newly designed space. Research from schools included in the first cycle of grant recipients has shown the active learning classroom’s impact on student and instructor metrics, including:

  • Enhanced collaboration and team-based learning;
  • Drove student engagement and participation; and
  • Supported instructor-led changes in pedagogy.

The Steelcase Education learning environment will be installed beginning summer 2018 at Defiance College. For more information on the Active Learning Center Grant program, visit the Steelcase Education website.

Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts-based institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The college website is

Steelcase Education            

As lifelong learners, Steelcase Education aims to make a difference in education. For students, educators and designers, the organization creates the most effective, rewarding and inspiring learning spaces. As a dedicated group within Steelcase exclusively focused on education, it brings evidence-based design, technology and innovative solutions to education environments, wherever learning happens.