American Sociological Association

Share, Show, and Tell: Group Discussion or Simulations Versus Lecture Teaching Strategies in a Research Methods Course

Impacts of incorporating active learning pedagogies into a lecture-based course were examined among 266 students across nine research methods course sections taught by one instructor at a large public university. Pedagogies evaluated include lecture only, lecture with small group discussions, and lecture with simulations. Although lecture-simulations sections outperformed lecture-only sections on one outcome measure, few performance differences appeared between lecture-only and alternative groups. Even when controlling eight variables potentially affecting performance, active learning components provided little measurable learning benefit. Student appraisals of instructor effectiveness were generally favorable, and students preferred the lecture-only format to the lecture-discussion format. Despite calls to reduce reliance on lecturing, these data suggest introducing active learning into lecture-based courses may not consistently enhance achievement. Perhaps discussions and simulations were too few or too short in duration to yield significant learning advantages. Course content and instructor style and experience likely confound effects of teaching methodology on achievement.

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Judith A. Linneman





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