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Assessing "Low-Intensity" Active Learning
Unformatted Document Text:  Table 2. Active Learning: Average gain in multiple choice and subjective scores for control and experimental groups. Scores Multiple Choice Subjective Evaluation of Class  Engagement Control (Sec.1) +3.83 ­.24 Experimental (Sec. 2) +2.08 +.22 Significant  Difference?  No No Both the pre- and post-tests asked students to rate the class in terms of how engaging it was. Table 2 shows that between the previous class and the control class, there was a slight decline in Section 1’s average indication of engagement. In contrast, Section 2 showed a slight gain in the level of engagement between the two class periods. Again I used a paired t-test to compare the average of each class’s subjective view of the class. Despite the clear difference between the two section’s evaluation of their level of engagement, the difference between the pre- and post-test evaluations was not statistically significant. Further, when running an independent t-test to compare the two section’s evaluations, there also was no statistically significant difference. The third hypothesis dealt with the type of learning that may have occurred in each section. The control group may have done better on the multiple choice because more facts were given in the lecture, which would be easier to check with an objective quiz. In contrast, the students in the experimental group may have done more integrative learning. That is, rather than be given a summary of dates and institution names, they may have spent more time learning about how the concepts work together. Thus, they may be better able to grapple with applying the concepts to different situations. This was tested by a subsequent short essay that asked students to relate the concept of functionalism and to the tenets of liberalism, using specific examples from the historical progression of the European Union. Again, independent t-tests were used to demonstrate whether the difference in the short essay scores were statistically significant. They were [t(59) = 2.154, p <.035], however, the difference was not as was hypothesized. That is, the experimental group did worse on the short-essay (5.56) than the control group (7.33) and the difference was statistically significant. On the subsequent exam, the difference disappeared (control = 8.5 and experimental = 8.8) and was not statistically significant. The last hypothesis was that the longer-term scores would remain higher for the experimental group. The logic of this hypothesis is that the active learning would cement the material for a longer time than lecture / discussion. However, there was not a significant difference on the subsequent exam scores of the two sections. Below are the scores on the multiple choice and essay portions of each quiz or exam on the material on the European Union. There is no clear indication of any difference or trend in the data. This suggests that none of the hypotheses were supported by the data. 8

Authors: Van Inwegen, Patrick.
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Table 2. Active Learning: Average gain in multiple choice and subjective scores for control
and experimental groups.
Scores
Multiple Choice
Subjective Evaluation of Class 
Engagement
Control (Sec.1)
+3.83
­.24
Experimental (Sec. 2)
+2.08
+.22
Significant 
Difference? 
No
No
Both the pre- and post-tests asked students to rate the class in terms of how engaging it
was. Table 2 shows that between the previous class and the control class, there was a slight
decline in Section 1’s average indication of engagement. In contrast, Section 2 showed a slight
gain in the level of engagement between the two class periods. Again I used a paired t-test to
compare the average of each class’s subjective view of the class. Despite the clear difference
between the two section’s evaluation of their level of engagement, the difference between the
pre- and post-test evaluations was not statistically significant. Further, when running an
independent t-test to compare the two section’s evaluations, there also was no statistically
significant difference.
The third hypothesis dealt with the type of learning that may have occurred in each
section. The control group may have done better on the multiple choice because more facts were
given in the lecture, which would be easier to check with an objective quiz. In contrast, the
students in the experimental group may have done more integrative learning. That is, rather than
be given a summary of dates and institution names, they may have spent more time learning
about how the concepts work together. Thus, they may be better able to grapple with applying
the concepts to different situations. This was tested by a subsequent short essay that asked
students to relate the concept of functionalism and to the tenets of liberalism, using specific
examples from the historical progression of the European Union.
Again, independent t-tests were used to demonstrate whether the difference in the short
essay scores were statistically significant. They were [t(59) = 2.154, p <.035], however, the
difference was not as was hypothesized. That is, the experimental group did worse on the short-
essay (5.56) than the control group (7.33) and the difference was statistically significant. On the
subsequent exam, the difference disappeared (control = 8.5 and experimental = 8.8) and was not
statistically significant.
The last hypothesis was that the longer-term scores would remain higher for the
experimental group. The logic of this hypothesis is that the active learning would cement the
material for a longer time than lecture / discussion. However, there was not a significant
difference on the subsequent exam scores of the two sections. Below are the scores on the
multiple choice and essay portions of each quiz or exam on the material on the European Union.
There is no clear indication of any difference or trend in the data. This suggests that none of the
hypotheses were supported by the data.
8


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