Chemistry Seminar with Dr. Stanley Lo from UCSD at 4:00pm

“When Active Learning Fails: Instructor Beliefs, Student Outcomes and Opportunity Gaps”

In recent decades, many national reports have called for the transformation of undergraduate education. While active-learning approaches can be effective across contexts, discrepant results raise questions about specific implementations and their efficacies. Our research examines how different instructors implement the same active-learning approaches and what factors contribute to equitable student outcomes. First, we used case studies with qualitative and quantitative methodologies to determine how multiple instructors enacted the same curriculum, why they implemented active learning in distinct ways, and what actions in the classrooms supported student learning. Second, we used phenomenography with in-depth interviews to develop a novel framework for how instructors understand diversity in higher education. Through campus-level quantitative data, we identified instructor conceptions of diversity, assessment, and student ability that correlated with reduced disparities in course grades. From these results, we propose a model in which instructor beliefs are central to improving student outcomes and closing opportunity gaps.