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Impact of Active Learning Classrooms on Feedback-Supported Student Learning

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 21: Student Grades and Feedback

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Jae-Eun Russell University of Iowa

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Dr. Russell serves as the Associate Director for the Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology at the University of Iowa. She completed her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Iowa. Her research examines instructional practices that support successful student learning. Her research also involves autonomous motivation, self-regulated learning, technology adoption, and learning analytics adoption.

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Mark S. Andersland University of Iowa

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Mark S. Andersland is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Iowa. He earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1983, 1984, and 1989. He holds two patents, has received numerous teaching awards, and was a Hewlett Packard Faculty Development Fellow. His research interests include network communication, decentralized control, and engineering education.

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As educators incorporate more instructional technology and active learning into their teaching, the demand for active learning classrooms (ALCs), and the opportunities to provide students with more frequent and richer instructional feedback, have increased. Feedback has long been recognized as a significant contributor to student learning, while ALCs are known to foster instructor-student respect, effective communication, and conceptual learning. Less well understood is the impact that learning spaces, such as ALCs, can have on feedback, and more generally, the active learning it promotes. In this study, we examined the following questions: (1) Is an ALC a significant factor for students' learning outcomes after controlling for their prior learning outcomes? and (2) How do students’ learning experiences in traditional, and active learning spaces, differ? The two spaces studied were a traditional front-facing lecture classroom and an ALC outfitted with round, 9-seat tables, and multiple wall-mounted whiteboards and projection screens. The same instructor taught an introductory engineering circuits course in both spaces using the same syllabus, classroom activities, assessments, and web-based problem delivery and feedback system. Typical classes began with a 10-minute mini-lecture from the instructor and concluded with 40 minutes of problem-solving supported by the web-based feedback system. During problem solving, students were encouraged to work together and, as needed, seek instructor and teaching assistants’ help to solve different versions of the same problems for credit.

In total, 173 students (84% of the enrollment) in both classrooms participated in the study. Surveys were administered at the beginning, middle, and end of each course, and prior learning outcomes (cumulative Grade Point Average), course outcomes (exam scores), and students’ demographics were collected after the courses concluded. Findings indicate that ALC students perceived their class time and in-class feedback as more helpful, spent fewer hours studying outside of class, and were more satisfied with the course, than the traditional classroom students. Further, multiple regression results indicate that the learning space was a significant predictor of student exam scores and final grades after controlling for students’ prior learning outcomes. In addition to highlighting how ALC can enhance the effectiveness of an active learning pedagogy, the study provides insight as to how a web-based feedback system can be implemented, in real-time, in class.

Russell, J., & Andersland, M. S. (2019, June), Impact of Active Learning Classrooms on Feedback-Supported Student Learning Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32919

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