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SoTL Corner

TEP bases its philosophy and recommendations on the evidence-based research that comes out of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). We feel it is important for the university community to be aware of the important contributions to SoTL, so we have compiled this list of resources. Some of the entries contain direct links to the original research papers, and others are resources from the secondary literature that draw on and refer to the primary literature.  We will continue to add to the list, so check back periodically to see what’s new.

  1. Students who participate actively in their classes retain material better than those who passively listen to lectures. This definitive 2014 meta-analysis by researchers at the University of Washington shows that students in active learning classes do on average 6 percentage points better on exams than their counterparts in lecture-based classes, and that students in classes with traditional lecturing are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes with active learning.Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415. http://www.pnas.org/content/111/23/8410.short
  2. Memory research has identified a wide variety of techniques for improving retention of information. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, is an extremely accessible and interesting book that reviews techniques for effective long-term learning. It includes descriptions of the research as well as advice for faculty and students wanting to implement the techniques.Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Harvard University Press.
  3. Studies show that students who take notes on laptops do worse on conceptual questions than those who take notes longhand, and not just because they are distracted by multitasking. For an overview of the research, try reading:May, C. (2014). A learning secret: Don’t take notes with a laptop. Scientific American, 3. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/

    If you prefer to read a research paper, see:

    Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the keyboard advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological science, 0956797614524581.  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0956797614524581

  4. Looking for a comprehensive overview of the research on learning with straightforward advice on how to incorporate it into your teaching? Check out How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. This book is a must-read for every instructor.Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. John Wiley & Sons.
  5. Students who practice retrieval – recall information from memory to answer questions or do activities – learn the retrieved material more effectively than ones who simply reread text or do activities with open notes. This short article by memory researcher Jeffrey Karpicke discusses the research and has references to original research papers:A powerful way to improve learning and memory: Practicing retrieval enhances long-term, meaningful learning. http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2016/06/learning-memory.aspx.
  6. Assessment in the College Science Classroom is a great book that provides an introduction to the goals of classroom assessment, assessment techniques and the research supporting them, and advice on how to implement them in your course. This book is useful far beyond the science faculty for whom it was nominally written.Dirks, C., Wenderoth, M. P., & Withers, M. (2014). Assessment in the college science classroom. W.H. Freeman Scientific Publishers.
  7. Did you know that research shows students do not learn more effectively when taught using their preferred learning style? For more information, read this summary article by the American Psychological Association, which has links to the original research papers:http://www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/spotlight/issue-22.aspx.
  8. Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide is a comprehensive teaching resource for STEM faculty. It has sections on designing courses, teaching courses, and facilitating skill development. Every STEM faculty member should use this resource!Felder, R. M., & Brent, R. (2016). Teaching and learning STEM: A practical guide. John Wiley & Sons.
  9. Students who improve their awareness of themselves as learners – their metacognition – generally learn better as a result. For tips on ways to build student metacognition in your classes, see:Tanner, K. D. (2012). Promoting student metacognition. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11(2), 113-120.  http://www.lifescied.org/content/11/2/113.short
  10. What techniques do the best one-on-one tutors use with their tutees, and what makes then so effective? How can you introduce some of those techniques into your large classroom? This paper has some great suggestions:Wood, W. B., & Tanner, K. D. (2012). The role of the lecturer as tutor: doing what effective tutors do in a large lecture class. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11(1), 3-9. http://www.lifescied.org/content/11/1/3.full
  11. Students who participate actively in their classes retain material better than those who passively listen to lectures. See the evidence for yourself in this paper from the education research group of Nobel prizewinner Carl Wieman. It has become a classic of the active learning literature.Deslauriers, L., Schelew, E., & Wieman, C. (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science, 332(6031), 862-864. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/332/6031/862
  12. Do you want to know how well your teaching practices mesh with techniques proven to enhance student learning? It could be a step toward improving your teaching. Try taking the Teaching Practices Inventory (TPI), a tool designed for science faculty but applicable to a much wider range of disciplines, then make an appointment to talk about it with a TEP representative! For a discussion of the TPI with links to the inventory and the original research paper, go to http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/teaching-practices-inventory-provides-tool-help-examine-teaching/.
  13. What techniques do you use to ensure that all the students in your class feel included and engaged? If you could use come evidence-based pointers, check out this paper by Kimberly Tanner. It was written for biologists, but the strategies she suggests are applicable in just about every classroom.Tanner, K. D. (2013). Structure matters: twenty-one teaching strategies to promote student engagement and cultivate classroom equity. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 12(3), 322-331. http://www.lifescied.org/content/12/3/322.short.





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