Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


TEED, Rebecca, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wright State University, 260 Brehm Labs, 3640 Colonel Glenn Highway, Dayton, OH 45435,

Instructors who employ active learning in their classes often use a mixture of traditional teaching techniques (such as lectures and demonstrations) and activities that require the students to construct their own understanding. In contrast, pure-inquiry classes rely almost completely on student-centered learning approaches. There are many reasons for an instructor to design a transitional class rather than completely student-centered one, including the need to cover a wide range of topics quickly and a desire to acquire experience with student-centered learning techniques gradually. It takes time and practice to develop effective new materials for their changing responsibilities as they shift towards a student-centered classroom, in which they do less presentation and more assessment.

I taught two different transitional classes and two sections of a student-centered class. I developed content pre- and post-tests (mostly open-ended) for each class based on its objectives. Students in the two transitional classes took team-based learning quizzes, as individual (to assess their understanding of the reading) and in groups (to enable them to discuss it). One of these classes, Climate Change, was based around lectures and a research paper. The students were mostly prospective geology majors (primarily juniors). The other transitional class, Concepts in Earth Science I, involved short lectures, worksheets, and hands-on activities (both scripted and inquiry). It is a required course for pre-service pre-K-8 teachers (sophomores to seniors). Students in the student-centered class, Concepts in Earth Science II, were junior and senior pre-service science teachers (preparing for grade 4-8 classrooms). They listened to short lectures, but mostly worked together in groups: asking and answering questions, writing papers, and giving presentations.

The average normalized gain for students in both sections of the student-centered class (50% and 46%) was greater than those of the students in the transitional classes (27% for Climate Change and 30% for Concepts in Earth Science I). In the transitional classes, the individual-quiz averages correlated with the post-test score (r2 = 42.1% for Climate Change and 77.0% for Concepts in Earth Science I) although the quizzes were multiple-choice.