Reversing the Gains of Active Learning
Keywords:active learning, remote learning, COVID-19, team-based quizzes, asynchronous lectures, traditional learning
COVID-19 and its ensuing pandemic ignited an atomic bomb on educational systems across the world invoking an emergent and abrupt transition to remote learning. The aftershocks were unpredictable but left a crippled educational system where students were forced into their bedrooms, sometimes deported to their homelands in different time-zones and isolated from their friends and peers. Learning quickly transitioned from social face-to-face interactions to an estranged and detached face-to-computer dependence. Although some introverted students welcomed this transition, many were dissatisfied, and their performance reflected this sentiment. In this study, we compare students’ performance in an undergraduate mathematics class in a large research-intensive university in the Western United States of America over a 2-year time period from 2019 to 2020. This started as a traditional lecture-style course for 3 quarters, transitioned to a hybrid lecture style with integrated adaptive team-based quizzes for 2 quarters, and abruptly changed with the COVID-19 pandemic to online lectures with team-based quizzes for 1 quarter. We demonstrate in our retrospective data analysis that the performance gains from the traditional lecture-style transition to active learning were subsequently lost in the movement to remote learning. We discuss the many obstacles that may have accounted for this loss of performance and suggest future directions for improving remote active learning methodologies.
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