Do ALCs improve student learning?



Over the past 10 years, researchers at
CEI have partnered with faculty members at the University of Minnesota to
conduct a series of studies that compare a class taught in a traditional
classroom with a near identical class taught in an active learning classroom. A colleague and I transformed our Introductory Biology class into an
active learning classroom. We had two sections of Introductory Biology and we
attempted to hold all the content that students were responsible for learning
constant. They have the same syllabus, the same exams, but, in one course, we did our
traditional lecturing and in the other session we did a bunch of activities. and what we've consistently found is that once we control four important features
of students, like their sex, their age their major, and their ACT score, and
their GPA students consistently outperform great expectations in the
class held in the active learning classroom. The students in the active
learning classroom outperformed their peers, when it came to the exams and
their final course performance. Research has shown us that different kinds of
pedagogy are more impactful in active learning
classrooms as compared to others, so there are some studies that compare more
instructor centered pedagogy in active learning classrooms versus more
student-centered pedagogy and it is the case that you get the most impact to be
the most significant gains when the environment matches with the pedagogy
that's being used in that environment. All of the studies that we've conducted
on ALCs have taken place in the same kind of class namely introductory level
science classes so really all we know is that ALCs have good effects on students
like those in that type of class and we don't really know how ALCs will affect
classes that are different from those, classes in the professional schools,
classes with graduate students classes in the humanities, or say, the Law School
or Business School that research remains to be done.

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