Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Perceptions of Active Learning between Faculty and Undergraduates: Differing Views among Departments

Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Perceptions of Active Learning between Faculty and Undergraduates: Differing Views among Departments

Article excerpt

Introduction

As a part of teaching reforms called for by numerous scientific organizations (e.g., Handelsman, Miller, & Pfund, 2007; Kober & Council, 2015), scientific teaching practices, including active learning, have been implemented in higher education STEM programs across the country (e.g., Andrews, Leonard, Colgrove, & Kalinowski, 2011; Freeman et al., 2014). Active learning techniques increase student success and engagement in the classroom using a variety of activities including group discussions, clicker questions, debates, and projects (Freeman, et al., 2014). Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of these techniques, particularly for first-generation and minority college students (Eddy & Hogan, 2014; Freeman, et al., 2014; Freeman, Haak, & Wenderoth, 2011; Wood, 2009). Despite positive student perceptions and evidence of the efficacy of active learning, many faculty members do not implement these strategies in their classrooms (Ebert-May et al., 2011; Miller & Metz, 2014). Our study allows us to use empirical data to gain an understanding of how both faculty and students perceive various teaching methods to help identify which teaching methods are being used, attitudes towards these methods, barriers to implementing various methods, and how these barriers might be reduced. Our study is also crucial to the conceptual underpinnings of science education research because without such data from individual institutions to inform models of change, it is doubtful that wide-spread instructional transformation can occur within an institution, within a discipline, or within STEM.

Previous work to understand faculty and student perceptions of teaching methods have shown that students often feel that they learn more when active learning is employed, but they do not necessarily like the activities themselves (e.g., Machemer & Crawford, 2007; C. V. Smith & Cardaciotto, 2012). Faculty tend to recognize that active learning benefits students but cite myriad barriers to changing their own teaching styles, including lack of (or perceived lack of) preparation time, class time, classroom control, and administrative support (e.g., Michael, 2007; Silverthorn , Thorn, & Svinicki, 2006). Differences in expectations and limited communication between faculty members and education researchers have also been shown to be barriers to implementing more studentcentered teaching practices (Henderson & Dancy, 2007, 2008). Others have suggested that professional identity, specifically the perception that being viewed as a teacher confers lower status than being viewed as a researcher, may also present a barrier to pedagogical change that must be lowered for these practices to be widely implemented (Brownell & Tanner, 2012).

Expanding this work, Miller and Metz (2014) surveyed 119 first-year dental students and nine faculty members in a physiology department to investigate student and faculty perceptions of the effectiveness and use of active learning techniques in the classroom and perceived barriers to its implementation. They found that these professional-level students had very positive perceptions of the effectiveness of active learning and suggested that 40% of class time should be devoted to active learning. The student perceived barriers to its implementation included faculty not seeing this technique as useful, being accustomed to lecturing, and lack of training in the method. On the contrary, professors did indeed perceive active learning methods positively, but perceived lack of class time, being accustomed to lecture, and lack of time to develop materials as their biggest barriers to implementing active learning. Investigating student perceptions of active learning is important in its own right; asking students what barriers to implementation they think faculty face is enlightening and could help faculty gain perspective on what their students think of them and their teaching style. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.