Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So That About Does It for Lecture

The title for this blog post is a bit tongue in cheek.  Certainly data by itself isn't going to change people.  Change requires actions by people.  But on a data level, there is an increasingly clear picture about what works in education.  This post is about yet another body of work that validates collaborative learning and IBL methods.

All the vectors are pointing in the same direction.  Namely, IBL is more effective than lecture.

Effectiveness of STEM Small Group Learning

Dr. Sema Kalaian et al have been conducting a large, NSF-funded meta-analysis to determine whether or not small group learning in classrooms is more effective than the traditional lecture-based instruction in promoting higher achievement and attitudes toward STEM subjects as well as persistence in STEM college classrooms.  Their work produced rigorous, scientific evidence that establishes a "medium" effect size of 0.37 in favor of small group learning.

As I mentioned this before -- all the vectors are pointing in the same direction.  Whether one looks at elementary school math ed studies, secondary math ed studies, college STEM, other subjects,... all the evidence points towards active learning.  

Students who DO do better.  Students who engage deeply in the subject and are allowed opportunities to collaborate have better learning outcomes.

It's starting to evolve into a moral issue, when looked upon from the seat of an Education researcher.  The evidence in favor of active learning is heading towards the equivalent level of "smoking increases the risks for cancer."  At some point we need to start asking fundamental questions about what we are doing as profession and how we can evolve as a profession appropriately.

If you have thought about the notion that IBL is a style or fad, then I encourage you to think otherwise. Those of us who support and encourage the use of IBL (in whatever flavor) do so, because the evidence from research and our experiences from the classroom compels us to do so. It's a professional choice based on evidence, reason, and the sheer joy of seeing students grow into their potential.

When you're ready to get started with IBL or go to the next step?  Contact us at AIBL. We're here to help!