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Collaborative learning at Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College (PCC) is a local community college offering two-year degrees in Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS). It enrolls over 25,000 students per year, and has taught over one million individuals in its 75 year history.

James Maloney, co-director of the CSA@Caltech, is also an adjunct professor at PCC and has promoted several collaborations between the two organizations. For example, engineering students have worked with us on lessons and instrumentation design projects (e.g. a DNA thermocycler for classrooms).

James has also made use of the SKIES collaborative learning app ( to teach several classes at PCC, including the mathematics of business and business calculus. CSA@Caltech uses SKIES to promote the creation and sharing of lessons. Below are some examples from PCC classes.

On the first day of class students practice making cards by answering questions about their goals and aspirations:


Lectures are supplemented with drawings to illustrate important trends:


Students are encouraged to create their own applications and post ideas so that everyone can see a wide range of work in a short amount of time:

The cards are convenient for math courses because embedded typesetting allows for complex and technically detailed expressions to be easily created and displayed:

For multi-step problems, such as function analysis, studnets can share work from each step and come to a concensus about the correct solution as well as alternative strategies:


The interactive format makes it easy to collect multiple examples of student work while practicing problems, allowing students to compare their work with each other: