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A Scaffolded Approach to Active Learning in the Graduate Classroom

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Graduate Studies Division (GSD) Technical Session 2: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning in Engineering Graduate Programs

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Graduate Studies Division (GSD)

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Paper Authors


Sarah A. Goodman Stevens Institute of Technology

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Sarah A. Goodman is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Stevens Institute of Technology. She teaches graduate-level crystallography and research methods courses, and undergraduate-level introductory materials science courses. Her teaching and research interests include the use of active learning in graduate courses, supporting English Language Learners at the graduate and undergraduate level, and helping students develop a sense of community and belonging in the field of engineering. Prof. Goodman has experience teaching 4th, 11th, and 12th grade science, and has worked for two science education nonprofits.

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Gail P. Baxter Stevens Institute of Technology

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Gail P. Baxter is the Co-Director, Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at Stevens Institute of Technology. Baxter leads CIESE research and evaluation efforts and manages a program to support faculty adoption of evidence-bas

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Many graduate courses are the ideal size for active learning to take place, and although the literature has shown that students may be resistant to student-centered approaches, we propose that active learning can be effectively introduced with appropriate supports. To build trust within the class and reduce barriers to student participation, a three-pronged approach towards active learning was implemented: not-for-credit socialization activities including a field trip and snack breaks, game-based student response systems including Kahoot and Pear Deck, and small group collaborations. Here, we use an end-of-course survey to understand student perceptions of this approach in a graduate Structure and Diffraction course of 13 students. Overall, the results of the student survey provide some evidence to support the use of multiple strategies to facilitate a sense of community, comfort with active participation and knowledge of course material. However, there was variation in student perceptions by activity (socialization, GSRS, small group collaboration) and by gender. Given their ease of use and potential to impact community building, learning, and comfort with active participation, a multi-pronged approach merits consideration in all graduate courses.

Goodman, S. A., & Baxter, G. P. (2023, June), A Scaffolded Approach to Active Learning in the Graduate Classroom Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42495

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