Despite the many studies confirming that active learning in STEM classrooms promotes greater retention as well as student learning and engagement, the adoption of active learning by instructors has been surprisingly slow. [1, 2, 3, 4] Instructors experience multiple barriers to implementing active learning, and one of the most common of such barriers is student resistance to active learning. [5, 6, 7] There are, however, effective strategies instructors can use to reduce student resistance. [8, 9, 10] Based on current research, we have designed professional development materials for instructors that are focused on disseminating these strategies in order to increase the successful implementation of active learning in STEM classrooms. In this study, we compare the efficacy of a traditional active learning workshop (AL only) and an extended version of this workshop that also specifically highlights these strategies (AL plus). Through a randomized control trial, we plan to study the way in which these workshops influence instructors’ motivation (value and self-efficacy) to adopt and the actual use of active learning in their classrooms. Further, we will also investigate instructors’ motivation for and use of strategies to reduce student resistance.
At three separate sites, one in the Midwest, South, and West, we are currently recruiting STEM instructors from 2-year and 4-year institutions to participate in our project. At each site, we aim to recruit 75 participants who will be randomly assigned to one of three groups. Group 1 will participate in the AL plus workshop during the summer of 2020, Group 2 will participate in the AL only workshop during the summer of 2020, and Group 3 – the control group – will participate in the AL plus workshop during summer 2021. For all instructors, we will collect baseline data during the winter/spring semester of 2020 and at the time of the workshop for Groups 1 and 2. We will also collect data in the fall semester of 2020, following workshop participation for Groups 1 and 2.
For data collection, we have developed and piloted three instruments to provide triangulation of results: an instructor survey, a student survey, and a classroom observation protocol. The instructor survey will assess instructors’ motivation (e.g., value and self-efficacy) for and, and use of active learning and the associated strategies to reduce student resistance. Students’ perceptions of the former will be measured through the student survey that will also include reports of student resistance to active learning. Thirdly, a classroom observation protocol will be used to evaluate instructors’ use of active learning and strategies to resistance student resistance in addition to student resistance to instructors’ use of active learning. This work-in-progress paper will cover the development of our research methodology and present our research instruments.
 Dancy, M., Henderson, C., & Turpen, C. (2016). How faculty learn about and implement research-based instructional strategies: The case of Peer Instruction. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(1), 010110.
 Gradinscak, M. (2011). Redesigning engineering education for a globalised world. International Journal of the Arts & Sciences, 4(25), 217-225.
 Jamieson, L. H., & Lohmann, J. R. (2012). Innovation with Impact: Creating a Culture for Scholarly and Systematic Innovation in Engineering Education. Washington, DC: American Society for Engineering Education.
 Stains, M., Harshman, J., Barker, M. K., Chasteen, S. V., Cole, R., DeChenne-Peters S. E., … & Levis-Fitzgerald, M. (2018). Anatomy of STEM teaching in North American universities. Science, 359(6383), 1468-1470
 Finelli, C. J., Daly, S. R., & Richardson, K. M. (2014). Bridging the research-to-practice gap: Designing an institutional change plan using local evidence. Journal of Engineering Education, 103(2), 331-361
 Henderson, C., & Dancy, M. (2007). Barriers to the use of research-based instructional strategies: The influence of both individual and situational characteristics. Physical Review Special Topics- Physics Education Research, 3(2), 020102-020101 to 020102-020114
 Seidel, S. B., & Tanner, K. D. (2013) What if students revolt? – Considering student resistance: Origins, options, and opportunities for investigation. CBE- Life Sciences Education, 12(4), 586-595.
 Finelli, C. J., Nguyen, K. A., DeMonbrun, R. M., Borrego, M., Prince, M. J., Husman, J., … Waters, C. K. (2018). Reducing student resistance to active learning: Strategies for instructors. Journal of College Science Teaching, 47(5), 80-91.
 Nguyen, K. A., Husman, J., Borrego, M., Shekar, P., Prince, M. J., DeMonbrun, R. M., … Waters, C. K. (2017). Students’ expectations, types of instruction, and instructor strategies predicting student response to active learning. International Journal of Engineering Education, 33(1A), 2-18.
 Tharayil, S. A., Borrego, M., Prince, M., Nguyen, K. A., Shekhar, P., Finelli, C. J., & Waters, C. K. (2018). Strategies to mitigate student resistance to active learning. International Journal of STEM Education, 5(7), 1-16.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.