Investigating newer statistics instructors' breakthroughs with and motivations for using active learning: a longitudinal case-study and a multi-phase approach towards nstrument development

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


National recommendations call for a shift from using lecture-based approaches to using approaches that engage students in the learning process, primarily through active learning techniques. Despite these recommendations, the adoption of active learning techniques for newer statistics instructors remains limited. The goal of this research is to provide a more holistic understanding about statistics instruction, specifically as it relates to recommended active learning techniques and newer statistics instructors, including graduate student instructors (GSIs). In this research, I present two studies. In the first study, we investigated GSIs' breakthroughs in their knowledge about, emotions towards, and use of active learning over time by using a longitudinal collective case-study approach. Survey, interview, and observation data across four semesters revealed that the GSIs' breakthroughs in their use of active learning only occurred after their increased knowledge about active learning aligned with their emotions towards it. This study further revealed that the GSIs needed to feel confident in and be challenged by their course structure before implementing active learning techniques. The second study builds upon these findings by exploring statistics instructors' motivations or reasons for using active learning. Under the self-determination theory framework, we conducted a multi-phase study to develop an instrument that measures four different types of motivational constructs for using group work, a specific active learning approach. We constructed items using expert opinion and cognitive interviews, and then we conducted two pilot studies with newer statistics instructors. The resulting reliability and validity evidence suggest that this instrument may help support future studies' investigations of motivation, helping us to better understand newer statistics instructors' use of active learning. Together, these studies may help inform future recommendations on how to support newer statistics instructors' early adoption of such technique.




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