Students at Grinnell College learn in varied ways, both inside and outside the classroom. They learn by doing, whether in athletic and artistic pursuits, through public presentation and performance, by conducting experiments, or by writing for an audience.
Grinnell College gives faculty members broad freedom to design courses and to develop appropriate methods of instruction. Faculty members regularly experiment with new teaching methods, assignments, and classroom activities. As a result, students encounter a range of academic experiences suited to the subject matter, to different learning styles, and to their capabilities and interests. Small classes, including introductory classes, do not simply rely on a textbook, but also make use of readings selected and arranged by the instructor, or materials and activities that draw upon the college libraries, laboratories, music studios, art galleries, computing resources, and field sites. In seminars, studio art courses, and departmental colloquia, students present their own work for critical discussion and analysis.
Independent study takes a variety of forms: guided readings, independent projects, mentored summer research, and course-linked projects that add credits for an existing course. High standards of quality are expected in all the forms of instruction for which credit is awarded, and all courses are taught by the Grinnell College faculty.