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Understanding Context: Propagation and Effectiveness of the Concept Warehouse in Mechanical Engineering at Five Diverse Institutions and Beyond – Results from Year 1.Several consensus reports cite a critical need to dramatically increase the number and diversity of STEM graduates over the next decade. They conclude that a change to evidence-based instructional practices, such as concept-based active learning, is needed. Concept-based active learning involves the use of activity-based pedagogies whose primary objectives are to make students value deep conceptual understanding (instead of only factual knowledge) and then to facilitate their development of that understanding. Concept-based active learning has been shown to increase academic engagement and student achievement, to significantly improve student retention in academic programs, and to reduce the performance gap of underrepresented students. Fostering students' mastery of fundamental concepts is central to real world problem solving, including several elements of engineering practice. Unfortunately, simply proving that these instructional practices are more effective than traditional methods is not enough to ensure widespread pedagogical change. In fact, the biggest challenge to improving STEM education is not the need to develop more effective instructional practices, but to find ways to get faculty to adopt the evidence-based pedagogies that already exist.
The goal of the study presented here was to test the reliability and validity of faculty responses to the Strategies to Reduce Student Resistance (SRSR) a measure of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics university faculty use and motivation (self-efficacy and value) for using instructional strategies to reduce student resistance to active learning. The development of this measure will support research and interventions designed to support faculty implementation of active learning strategies. The scale examined here was adapted from a student version, developed and tested as part of a national study on student resistance to active learning in engineering programs. This project reveled a set of faculty behaviors which supported students’ positive response to active learning strategies (Authors, 2017). Although student perspectives on faculty behavior is important, we felt it was necessary to adapt the scale to measure faculty’s perspectives on the strategies they use and their motivation to use those strategies as part of their use of active learning in their classroom.
Despite many studies confirming that active learning in STEM classrooms improves student outcomes, instructors;' adoption of active learning has been surprisingly slow. This work-in-progress paper describes our broader research study in which we compare the efficacy of a traditional active learning workshop (AL) and an extended version of this workshop that also specifically highlights instructor strategies to reduce resistance (AL+) on instructors' beliefs about and actual adoption of active learning in undergraduate STEM classrooms. Through a randomized control trial (RCT), we aim to understand the ways in which these workshops influence instructors' motivation to adopt and the actual use of active learning. This RCT involves instructors and students at a large number of institutions including two-year college, four-year college, and large research institutions in three regions of the country and strategies to reduce student resistance to active learning. We have developed and piloted three instruments, which allow for triangulation of classroom data: an instructor survey, a student survey, and a classroom observation protocol. This work-in-progress paper will cover the current progress of our research study and present our research instruments.