We at Kaplan are looking forward to using learning science research at scale to find (and demonstrate) new, effective ways to learn, and to stop doing things that are ineffective or inefficient. More on this in future blogs.
However, it is always great to see reports of others doing the same. Science recently had a most interesting article about this: “Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class” by Louis Deslauriers, Ellen Schelew, and Carl Wieman. It shows both progress and perils in applying research from learning science to classroom instruction – things we all need to keep in mind if we want to use, and generate, evidence about learning at scale.
The article reports the results of replacing “normal” college physics lectures with a more interactive approach based around giving students questions up-front that they discuss in small groups in the lecture hall, then posting their electronic results, group-by-group, with a final discussion as a large group with the lecturer. Repeat with the next topic.
After a week of this kind of work, the section doing this showed dramatic improvement compared to the other section on a multiple-choice summative assessment, along with strong (20%) gains in attendance and strong interest in more of this kind of instruction by the students participating.