New research shows that when it comes to physics teaching, no good deed goes unpunished.

A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on student perceptions of active learning says this in the “Significance” box:

Despite active learning being recognized as a superior method of instruction in the classroom, a major recent survey found that most college STEM instructors still choose traditional teaching methods. This article addresses the long-standing question of why students and faculty remain resistant to active learning. Comparing passive lectures with active learning using a randomized experimental approach and identical course materials, we find that students in the active classroom learn more, but they feel like they learn less. We show that this negative correlation is caused in part by the increased cognitive effort required during active learning. Faculty who adopt active learning are encouraged to intervene and address this misperception, and we describe a successful example of such an intervention.

We run into this in our Studio Physics Program here at FSU. Despite the fact that we have been the university’s leaders in evidence-based teaching reform for more than a decade (and have the learning gain measurements to back that up) no faculty member has been even nominated for a university teaching award for working in the Studio Physics Program in the 11-year history of the program. And it turns out that when it comes to trying to find the resources necessary to expand the program to serve more students, that lack of recognition hurts.

A Studio Physics class at FSU.
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