A limitation that the authors fully acknowledge is that these data were collected by surveying faculty who had completed their four-day new professor workshop (NPW) during the first couple of years of their academic appointment. Their NPW has the goal to develop in new professors the capacity to implement active learning strategies. However! These are self-reports. SRIs were not actually enumerated and statistically analyzed. This is an issue for this study. Are instructors remembering their SRIs differently? How do they interpret their SRIs? Is a median above three (assuming a 5-point Likert scale) considered good to them? Is a median below four considered bad? There are differences in institutional culture as exemplified among the departments at my university.
Despite this major limitation, this is the beginning of gathering real evidence for how students respond to active learning.
Note that the authors clearly explain their position on the use of SRIs - that they should be interpreted carefully and only be one aspect of triangulating teaching efficacy. They suggest, however, that SRIs probably don’t even assess teaching efficacy and that other aspects of multi-faceted evaluation of teaching are necessary to actually assess teaching efficacy.
In addition, I appreciate that the authors clearly explain that the correlations between the amount of lecturing and SRIs are not set in stone. There were some instructors in their study who lectured less than 20% of the time who reported improved SRIs while there were also those in the Goldilocks region of 20-60% that reported decreases in SRIs. They make the important point that how active learning is received by students is heavily influenced by how instructors set up and facilitate the active learning activity in addition to the particular instructional/department/program context/culture. These all influence student expectations for instruction and learning and if the educational experience does not match students’ expectations, that is when students will award poor SRIs.
Teaching and learning are context dependent. The answer to how much active learning should be implemented in any particular class is... it depends.
ResourcesBenton, S. L., & Ryalls, K. R. (2016). Challenging misconceptions about student ratings of instruction. IDEA Paper, 58(April), 1–22.
Henderson, C., Khan, R., & Dancy, M. (2018). Will my student evaluations decrease if I adopt an active learning instructional strategy? American Journal of Physics, 86(12), 934–942.