- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1240091
- First Name Allison
- Last Name Wilson
- Discipline Other: chemistry math and physics
Andrew Wig, Benedictine University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Wangler, Benedictine University, email@example.com
Niina Ronkainen, Benedictine University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Allison Wilson, Benedictine University, email@example.com
It is generally agreed that active learning is a best practice for learning in the STEM fields. Most professors in the sciences would insist they promote and practice active learning in their classes. It is difficult to substantiate these claims unless measured. Gathering this information will provide a starting point for professors in our college to discuss the extent of active learning currently practiced and merits of active learning for students.
The goal of this project is to systematically survey a representative sample of key courses in the College of Science at Benedictine University for the kinds of activities professors and students are doing in their classes. Classes that use learning assistants (LAs) are being compared to classes that do not utilize LAs.
A Learning Assistant (LA) program was established to help recruit students into teaching. As part of the program, LAs must attend a pedagogy seminar to explore literature of teaching and learning. If LAs continue in the program additional semesters, they participate in an ongoing research project to gather data on the amount of active learning that occurs in College of Science classes at Benedictine University. LAs are trained to use the COPUS tool (Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM; CBE- Life Sciences Education, 12:618-627, 2013) to take a weeklong snapshot of what the instructor is doing and what students are doing in class. The tool does not address the effectiveness of active learning.
Thus far, 16 courses have been surveyed. Preliminary data analysis indicates that LA assisted courses have slightly more active learning activities than do non-LA assisted courses. Additional courses must be observed before statistical significance can be determined.
The broader impacts of the study are to:
1) provide an opportunity for students to participate in pedagogical research. Students collect and analyze data for presentation at our University student research symposium and/or at a local college research symposium.
2) raise awareness among STEM faculty in our college about best practices in pedagogy. Awareness will lead to discussion, reflection, and exploration of innovative ideas about pedagogy that should lead to changes that benefit student learning.
3) provide important assessment information about our programs in the College of Science for reporting purposes.