Active Learning Research

Where’s the Evidence that Active Learning Works?

Abstract: Calls for reforms in the ways we teach science at all levels, and in all disciplines, are wide spread. The effectiveness of the changes being called for, employment of student-centered, active learning pedagogy, is now well supported by evidence. The relevant data have come from a number of different disciplines that include the learning sciences, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology. There is a growing body of research within specific scientific teaching communities that supports and validates the new approaches to teaching that have been adopted. These data are reviewed, and their applicability to physiology education is discussed. Some of the inherent limitations of research about teaching and learning are also discussed.

J. M. (2006). Where’s the Evidence that Active Learning Works. American Physiological Society, 30(4), 159-167.

Read the Full Article >

Getting Under the Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work?

Abstract: At the college level, the effectiveness of active-learning interventions is typically measured at the broadest scales: the achievement or retention of all students in a course. Coarse-grained measures like these cannot inform instructors about an intervention’s relative effectiveness for the different student populations in their classrooms or about the proximate factors responsible for the observed changes in student achievement.

In this study, we disaggregate student data by racial/ethnic groups and first-generation status to identify whether a particular intervention—increased course structure—works better for particular populations of students. We also explore possible factors that may mediate the observed changes in student achievement. We found that a “moderate-structure” intervention increased course performance for all student populations, but worked disproportionately well for black students—halving the black–white achievement gap—and first-generation students—closing the achievement gap with continuing-generation students. We also found that students consistently reported completing the assigned readings more frequently, spending more time studying for class, and feeling an increased sense of community in the moderate-structure course. These changes imply that increased course structure improves student achievement at least partially through increasing student use of distributed learning and creating a more interdependent classroom community.

Eddy, S. L. (2014). Getting Under The Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work. CBE – Life Sciences Education, 13(3), 453-468.

Read the Full Article >

Learner-Centered Psychological Principles: A framework for school reform and redesign

Synopsis: 14 psychology based principles that relate to learner-centric cognitive and meta-cognitive approaches to teaching.

Read the Full Article >

Educause Learning SpacesM

Synopsis: Educause’s general information page on learning spaces. This page gives a good overview of the concepts of learning space design and the implications on new learning models. The page also discusses techniques for student engagement.

Read the Full Article >

The Transformative Potential of Blended Learning using MOOCs and Team-based Learning in Class

Abstract: This pilot implemented a blended model of learning by merging content from an online MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with in-class, team-based instruction as part of a required undergraduate circuit theory course. The central objective of this pilot was to examine how adaptation of the new MIT edX 6.002x (Electronics and Circuits) MOOC-content in a flipped model of teaching might improve student learning in a credit-bearing college course.

Multiple objectives for this pilot included: (1) improve the department’s typical passage rate of 59% for this course; (2) improve students’ retention rate; (3) shorten students’ time-to-degree; (4) improve the quality of the content of the course; and (5) reduce the prerequisite contribution for successful passage of subsequent courses. Student pass rates from the blended Fall 2012 pilot jumped to 91%, as compared to a 59% passage rate from the previous year’s traditional face-to face lecture class. It appears that adaptation of high quality MOOC content using a blended approach and in conjunction with a highly structured in-class team-based approach can produce significant benefits in transforming student learning and success.

K. G., Qayoumi, M. H., E. J., & P. H. (2013). The Transformative Potential of Blended Learning Using MIT edX’s 6.002x Online MOOC Content Combined with Student Team-Based Learning in Class. S

Read the Full Article >

Does Active Learning Work?

Abstract: This study examines the evidence for the effectiveness of active learning. It defines the common forms of active learning most relevant for engineering faculty and critically examines the core element of each method. It is found that there is broad but uneven support for the core elements of active, collaborative, cooperative and problem-based learning.

M. P. (2004). Does Active Learning Work? J. Engr. Education, 93(3), 223-231.

Read the Full Article >

Consolidation of Links that Report on Efficacy

Although many resources have been published on improvements in student retention and/or learning as a result of using what can be referred to as student-active pedagogies, the resources are published in a variety of journals or on various websites. As a result, it may be difficult for an individual to locate and assemble these resources to support an argument in favor of using these alternative pedagogies. Over a period of eight years, including my time as the Project Director for the Foundation Coalition, one of the Engineering Education Coalitions supported by NSF, I have tried to assemble many of these resources in one place for easy reference.

Froyd, J. E. (2007). Evidence for the Efficacy of Student-active Learning Pedagogies. Texas A&M University, 22.

Read the Full Article >