Problem solving: when instructors model and provide occasion for students to practice solving real-world problems embedded in content instruction within large gateway STEM lectures. Student response systems (i.e., clickers): new technologies enable immediate feedback (e.g., formative assessment) for both students and instructors, to gauge understanding and help guide the direction of the lecture. Questioning strategies (i.e., Socratic method): methods of engaging students can include asking frequent questions of individual students. Flipped format: when students watch lectures before coming into class, and class time is dedicated to completing problem sets and instructor demonstrations Blended models: when lectures are supplemented by software that covers course content and enables practice of target skills (e.g., problem solving). Online courses: these are courses delivered exclusively in an online format, and many include supplementary software and message boards to simulate in-person discussions. Lab courses: often, STEM courses require concurrent enrollment in a lab, where content is taught via hands-on experiments.
Quarters, Semesters, and the Transition
We are using a mixed-methods approach to conduct cross-sectional research on instruction and student outcomes as they may differ in quarter vs. semester settings, as well as what occurs when an institution transitions from one to the other.
Learning Assistants Program
The Learning Assistants Program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) employs a mixed-methods approach to: 1) discover the kinds of instruction made possible by the inclusion of Learning Assistants (LAs) in courses with both large and small enrollments, 2) determine the impact of the program for student outcomes, and 3) assess the efficacy of the LA model—previously exclusive to STEM courses at UCI—in non-STEM introductory courses.
Supplemental instruction broadly includes anything intended to enhance student learning, such as online resources and tutoring. We are studying which resources are most beneficial and for whom. Some areas under investigation: 1) Online homework systems 2) Discipline-specific tutoring centers 3) Cohort models for a single course or a suite of courses 4) Voluntary preparatory courses
We are using a mixed-methods approach to conduct studies on the unique experiences of different groups of students, including: 1) First-generation 2) Low-income 3) Underrepresented minorities 4) Transfer students 5) International students