Over the past decades, pedagogical research shows that actively learning students obtain higher levels of achievement than students learning passively [Johnson, 1991; Felder, 1998; Springer]. Modern STEM classrooms have been responding to the observation that traditional passive lectures are often the least educational aspect of university. The growing volume and accessibility of digital content including reading material, free on-line lecture content, youtube videos, TED talks, and so forth from world-class thinkers and educators is making the traditional passive lecture increasingly obsolete. Universities must respond to these changes in order to serve their mission. One solution to these problems are Active/Cooperative (ACL) strategies such as the Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP) Project [Beichner et al. 1999; Beichner et al. 2007; http://www.ncsu.edu/per/scaleup.html]. In the SCALE-UP classroom, “lecture” time is spent primarily on hands-on activities, questions and discussion of work completed/viewed prior to the lecture period.
Intellectual Merit: Active/Cooperative Learning strategies imply sometimes dramatic changes to course delivery. Thus, these proven strategies are adopted instructor-by-instructor, course-by-course. This proposal argues that instead ACL should be an essential substrate of education in STEM fields, from the very first course in the major and throughout the core. The proposed work will: