2900, chemin de la Tour
Montréal (QC) Canada  H3T 1J6

Are students’ perceptions of teaching and learning always valid? What are the most productive active learning techniques and how do we insure students engage with them?

Research shows students learn more when they are actively engaged in the classroom than they do in a passive lecture environment. Active teaching strategies have also been shown to increase lecture attendance, engagement, and students’ acquisition of expert attitudes toward the discipline. Despite this overwhelming evidence, most instructors still use traditional methods, at least in large-enrollment college courses. 

Why do these inferior methods of instruction persist? We identify significant obstacles that can hinder the wide adoption of active learning methods. We compared students’ self-reported perception of learning with their actual learning in large-enrollment introductory college physics courses taught using (i) active instruction (following best practices in the discipline), and (ii) passive instruction (lecture). Students in active classrooms learned more, but their perception of learning, was lower than that of their peers in passive environments. In addition, students in passive lectures reported higher satisfaction and a greater desire to have “all of their physics classes taught this way.” These misperceptions may reduce students’ motivation to participate in active learning and may discourage faculty from adopting research-based active teaching strategies. These results suggest that attempts to evaluate instruction based on students’ perceptions of learning could inadvertently promote inferior (passive) pedagogical methods. I will discuss various ways instructors can mitigate student’s misperceptions of learning in the classroom. 

A great deal of efforts has been spent optimizing various active learning techniques practiced by students inside and outside the classroom—I will provide a detailed description of the types of active learning currently being used in small and large enrollment science courses at Harvard University. 

La conférence est pour tout public et le café est servi dès 11h30.


Are students’ perceptions of teaching and learning always valid?  - Louis Deslauriers (Harvard)