Developing a science literate citizenry and a qualified Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce depend heavily on the learning environments provided in STEM courses at the university level. Despite numerous efforts nationwide to train STEM faculty in the implementation of teaching practices that have a demonstrated effectiveness, the extent to which this training has had a significant uptake nationwide is unknown.
Research shows lecturing – a professor teaching a topic, while a student listens – is one of the least successful ways to educate students in STEM courses. Yet, it still remains as the top way professors around the country teach. Marilyne Stains, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, partnered with ten other research teams to characterize a snapshot of the current instructional landscape in STEM classrooms in North America.
They analyzed over 2000 classes taught by more than 500 STEM faculty members at 25 colleges and universities in North America. But the results of the study show a lack of implementation of best practices by university faculty across the nation.
The outcome of their work is the identification of seven different instructional styles that can be categorized in three groups:
- Didactic: the instructor lectures on a topic while the students listen
- Interactive lecture: the instructor lectures but incorporates activities that require students to work in groups
- Student-centered: Student spent a large amount of class time working with each other