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Active Learning In Action, Understanding The Effects: What Happens When The “New” Wears Off In Teacher Training

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Engineering Professional Development for K12 Teachers

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.145.1 - 13.145.15



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Paper Authors


Austin Talley University of Texas at Austin

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AUSTIN TALLEY is a graduate student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin. His research focus is in design methodology and engineering education. He received his B.S. from Texas A&M University. He previously worked for National Instruments Corporation. Contact

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Kathy Schmidt University of Texas at Austin

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KATHY J. SCHMIDT is the Director of the Faculty Innovation Center for the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. In this position, she promotes the College of Engineering's commitment to finding ways to enrich teaching and learning. She works in all aspects of education including design and development, faculty training, learner support, and evaluation. Contact

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Kristin Wood University of Texas at Austin

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KRISTIN WOOD is the Cullen Trust Endowed Professor in Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Wood’s current research interests focus on product design, development, and evolution. The current and near-future objective of this research is to develop design strategies, representations, and languages that will result in more comprehensive design tools, innovative manufacturing techniques, and design teaching aids at the college, pre-college, and industrial levels. Contact:

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Richard Crawford University of Texas at Austin

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Understanding the Effects of Active Learning in Action: What Happens When the “New” Wears Off in Teacher Training


In-service teacher training that focuses on Active Learning to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education topics in K-12 has become quite prevalent. One such program, Design Technology and Engineering for America’s Children (DTEACh), has offered summer STEM training workshops for teachers for over fifteen years. The participants are usually excited about the new training and the changes that they plan to make in classroom instruction. After the excitement fades, though, do the teachers implement the techniques presented in the training workshops? This study looks at the effects of the DTEACh training program on participants. A survey of the immediate effects and opinions of teachers was conducted at the end of each day of the two-week training held in 2004. Results show the teachers have a positive perception of the training. This paper seeks to investigate the effects of the DTEACh program on the instructional style of the teacher participants. Are the techniques presented in the training used by the teachers years later? Do the teachers recognize the method they are using? To answer these questions and others, teachers who participated in a DTEACh summer training workshop within the last seven years were surveyed to determine the instructional styles they use in the classroom. The results show that the majority implement the instructional techniques presented in the training. However, less than half of the teachers could describe the 5-step DTEACh teaching method presented to the participants and used to structure the training. This lack of recognition of the method is an unexpected finding, deserving of further investigation. The results of the study also revealed that the teachers who took the DTEACh training workshop three or more years before the survey showed very similar responses to teachers who attended the workshop more recently, thus indicating that use of techniques presented in the training workshop is not diminishing significantly with time.


Active Learning is an approach developed to improve learning, and typically consists of techniques requiring students (as the name implies) to be actively engaged in learning through specially designed activities, followed by reflection upon what they have done1. This method is distinct from classical passive learning pedagogy, typified by lectures that present subject area content. Many types of activities have been developed over the past decade to improve student learning via the Active Learning techniques2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11. For example, several researchers report on the success of using LEGO® to assist with engineering concept explanation12,13,14,15.

Active Learning techniques are often presented to teachers through professional development institutes. One such program, the Design Technology and Engineering for America’s Children (DTEACh) program, demonstrates to teachers how the engineering design problem-solving process provides a way for students to learn mathematics and science concepts through the 5- Step Active Learning method. But, are teachers who are trained with Active Learning using

Talley, A., & Schmidt, K., & Wood, K., & Crawford, R. (2008, June), Active Learning In Action, Understanding The Effects: What Happens When The “New” Wears Off In Teacher Training Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3654

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