MESA, Ariz., Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Active learning, student engagement and interactive learning environments have become popular buzz words in academia, which is striving to change the traditional lecture-based classroom approach in higher education and boost student involvement, understanding and even enrollment. But an emerging trend on which colleges are reporting solid success rates is lecture-free classes used by universities like Benedictine University at Mesa, based upon an innovative "next generation learning" approach. "This approach is being designed to promote skilled communication as well as learning that is deeper, collaborative, self-managed, cross-disciplinary and technology-enhanced," said Mick Carroll, Ph.D., dean of Benedictine University at Mesa. "This is an interesting shift that is shaking the traditional approach to teaching and lecturing." Lecture-free classes are a response to growing criticism of the traditional, often passive lecture-based college classes which some educators say are a turn-off to students, leading to aggravation and poor grades. Experts say that traditional lecture-based teaching poorly prepares students for the workplace. Better prepared students are created through hands-on, interactive and team-based learning which produces the type of critical thinking skills that can be more readily transferred from the classroom to a student's career. This shifting paradigm in higher education teaching benefits students by increasing academic engagement, fostering stronger relationships with fellow students and faculty, and improving learning and success. For colleges, it can drive better retention and lead to stronger alumni networks as students become more connected to their alma maters and classmates after graduation. The use of technology is a major component to the success of this next generation learning style, creating what some are calling the "flipped classroom," where lectures and the traditional shape of classroom space is changed to reflect small-group discussions focused on interactive problem-solving.