• Lecture

    Science Education Research Lab

    Investigating key questions in science education

  • Active Learning

    Active Learning

    How does active engagement impact learning?

  • Exploding Wire Demonstration

    Lecture Demonstrations

    How can lecture demonstrations can simultaneous teach and inspire?

  • Lab Kit

    Teaching Laboratories

    What are the most effective hands-on experiences for students?

  • Coding Class

    Computation

    How can coding improve science education?

Selected Publications

Harnessing active engagement in educational videos: Enhanced visuals and embedded questions
Harnessing active engagement in educational videos: Enhanced visuals and embedded questions. Physical Review Physics Education Research (2022). Publisher's VersionAbstract

The prevalence of online instruction highlights the importance of videos in education. Pedagogies that include elements that actively engage students are accepted as an improvement over more passive modes of instruction. How can we transfer the advantages of active engagement to instruction via video? Previous research on instructional videos has shown that there are a number of principles, the adherence to which benefit student learning by maximizing productive cognitive processing. To understand the impact of combining such principles we designed and produced four different versions of the same physics demonstration video, varying levels of “visual enhancement” designed around these principles and the amount of active engagement across the different versions. Using pre-post video testing, we compared how much viewers learned across the four different versions. We found that actively engaging students by embedding questions throughout the video increases student learning. We also found that physics videos are most effective when they include enhanced visuals and embedded questions. Notably, it is the combination that matters most; the learning effect from embedding questions is increased when the video also includes enhanced visuals. This study represents an important step towards understanding how instructors can design and refine their videos to maximize student learning.

    Increased learning in a college physics course with timely use of short multimedia summaries
    Increased learning in a college physics course with timely use of short multimedia summaries. Physical Review Physics Education Research (2022). Publisher's VersionAbstract
    The typical introductory physics lecture requires students to consolidate and assimilate a large quantity of complex information that is often novel to them. This can leave students overwhelmed, slow the pace of their learning, and lower their motivation. We find that carefully designed multimedia summaries in the form of one-minute videos and short text summaries can significantly increase students’ understanding of the material as well as their ability to organize information into a useful mental framework, as measured by their performances on a concept mapping exercise and a conceptual test of learning. Notably, we show that these improvements can be achieved with negligible increase in overall time students spend on the course material each week. We discuss reasons why these short postlecture summaries helped students learn more, namely, that (i) they likely increased students’ ability to chunk and organize information while minimizing the extraneous cognitive load imposed by the materials, and (ii) they likely improved students’ ability to consolidate and transfer knowledge through the use of contrasting cases. We provide a set of detailed recommendations that instructors can use to develop effective postlecture multimedia summaries. We suggest that one of the most important and impactful recommendations is incorporating student thinking in the design of these types of summaries informed by the input of qualified former students or teaching assistants with significant experience interacting with students in the course.
    Increasing the effectiveness of active learning using deliberate practice: A homework transformation
    Increasing the effectiveness of active learning using deliberate practice: A homework transformation. Physical Review Physics Education Research (2021). Publisher's VersionAbstract
    We show how learning can be improved, beyond that shown in actively taught classrooms, by also transforming the homework using the principles of deliberate practice. We measure the impact of transforming the homework on student learning in a course that had already implemented an active approach to teaching in class. We compare performance on the same final exam in equivalent cohorts of students over three semesters of an introductory physics course: the first taught with traditional lectures and traditional homework, the second taught with active instruction coupled with traditional homework, and the last taught with both active instruction and transformed homework. We find students in the semester where both active teaching and transformed homework are used scored significantly higher on the final exam than the students taught actively but with traditional homework. This learning gain achieved by transforming the homework is comparable to that achieved by replacing traditional lectures with active teaching strategies in class. We further show the positive effects of transforming the homework on student learning through a shorter, controlled experiment. When everything but the homework implementation is controlled, students scored 5%–10% higher on a test of learning following transformed homework compared with traditional homework. This significant improvement to learning occurs despite students spending a similar amount of time on task. This study represents an initial step towards understanding how deliberate practice can be extended to improve pedagogy beyond what happens in the classroom to the out-of-class homework.