Presenter: Dr Barbara Maenhaut (The University of Queensland)

Active learning is a term used to describe a range of teaching practices that encourage students to think during class rather than listen passively. The benefits of active learning approaches in science and mathematics courses have been well-studied, see [1] for a recent survey. At The University of Queensland we have recently implemented active learning techniques in MATH1061, our first-year discrete mathematics course. This course has an enrolment of approximately 400 students each semester, including students in Information Technology, Software Engineering, and Mathematics.

The variant of active learning that we have implemented is based on ideas from The Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative and ideas that have been used in the teaching of undergraduate physics at UQ for several years. Prior to class, the students are required to watch one or two short videos that cover the core concepts of the next class, recommended to read some pages of the textbook to see some additional examples of applications of those concepts, and required to complete a short quiz on those concepts. The quiz includes a feedback question that prompts students to identify any ideas they would like to have discussed in class. Then in class, the lecturer addresses any problems that the students raised in the quiz feedback question, and students work through problems and use an in-class response system to answer multiple-choice questions.

In this talk, I will discuss how this active learning technique was implemented in Semester 2, 2016 and discuss achievement data and feedback from students.

[1] S. Freeman, S.L. Eddy, M. McDonough, M.K. Smith, N. Okoroafor, H. Jordt, M.P. Wenderoth,

Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics,

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 111 no. 23, 8410-8415.

About Teaching and learning seminars

Our teaching and learning seminars focus on innovations and projects that are underway in teaching mathematics, statistics and physics at UQ and other institutions.

We discuss the hot issues, and hear from people who are trying out new things.

Over the past 10 years many new ideas have been generated, collaborations made both within and across disciplines, and teaching grant proposals designed, submitted and received.

Students, staff and visitors to UQ are welcome to attend, and to suggest speakers and topics.

Seminars are usually held fortnightly on Wednesdays from 1pm to 1.50pm.