Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Interactive Teaching Methods

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Interactive Teaching Methods

Article excerpt

Interactive teaching methods significantly improved attendance and doubled both engagement and learning in a large physics class, according to a University of British Columbia (UBC) study published in the journal Science.

Led by Louis Deslauriers, a post-doctoral researcher at UBC's Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI), the study compared the amount of learning students experienced when taught--in three hours over one week--by traditional lecture and by interactive activities based on research in cognitive psychology and physics education.


The research team found that students in the interactive class were nearly twice as engaged as their counterparts in the traditional class. Students from the experimental class uniformly scored nearly twice as well (the average score was 74% vs. 41%, with random guessing producing a score of 23%) in a test designed to determine their grasp of complex physics concepts. During the experiment, attendance in the interactive class increased by 20%.

"There is overwhelming evidence that teaching pedagogy based on cognitive psychology and education research can improve science education," says coauthor Carl Wieman. "This study further shows that we can achieve individual attention without individual interaction, and that even in a large class, the positive effects of a tutor or apprenticeship model can be achieved by using evidence-based teaching methods."

"In addition to the objective measurements of engagement, attendance, and test scores, we also surveyed students and found that these teaching methods generated a lot of excitement in class--which makes for a great learning environment," says Deslauriers, lead author of the study. …

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