GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 83-3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


MCNEAL, Karen S.1, SOLTIS, Nick1, ZHONG, Min2, DOUKOPOULOS, Lindsay3, PORCH, Mallory4, ALWAN, Akilah5, JOHNSON, Elijah T.6 and COURTNEY, Stephanie L.7, (1)Geosciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, (2)Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, (3)Auburn University, Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning Center, 136 Foy Hall, Auburn, AL 36849, (4)Department of English, Auburn University, 9030 Haley Center, Auburn, AL 36849, (5)Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, (6)Geosciences, Auburn University, 2050 Beard Eaves Coliseum, Auburn, AL 36832, (7)Department of Geosciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36832

Much work has been conducted to test the benefits of active learning on students’ cognition, affect, and perceptions about STEM learning. Fewer efforts have been conducted that measure students’ engagement when exposed to different teaching approaches in real-time. Skin sensors can be used as a proxy to measure emotional engagement or electrodermal activity (EDA) and are a non-invasive real-time data acquisition tool. This study used a combination of skin sensors, COPUS classroom observations, pre-post content knowledge and affect assessments in order to determine how students are emotionally engaged and what learning gains may have occurred in a traditional versus an active learning section of a large introductory biology course. In total, 72 and 85 students in the two sections wore skin sensors and 138 and 168 students completed pre-post assessments. Findings indicate that although the active learning group started out with statistically significantly (p<0.05) lower content knowledge (M=34.89) than the traditional group (M=37.38), these differences were no longer significant (p>0.05) at the end of the semester (M=49.35 vs M=49.00). Additionally, the active learning classroom showed small increases in skin conductance, whereas the traditional classroom showed significantly (p<0.05) decreased skin conductance. Additionally, students in the active learning class self-reported being significantly (p<0.05) more engaged than those in the traditionally taught classroom. Finally, a significant (p<0.05) positive correlation was found to exist between skin conductance and the percent of class time students spent working or presenting to peers; where, a significant negative correlation was observed between skin conductance and the amount of time students spent listening to the instructor. This study demonstrates that student engagement as measured via skin conductance can provide real-time information that can distinguish between active learning and traditional classroom activities, with students in active learning classrooms showing more engagement for longer periods of time. Thus, this research builds on what is known about the positive teaching and learning outcomes of active learning classroom but uses a new measure, that of student engagement using skin sensors.