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Research

Articles, Conference Papers, and Working Papers

Below are summaries of research by TLL staff.  Please contact tll@mit.edu for complete copies of the works cited.

Barak, M., Lipson, A., & Lerman S. Wireless Laptops as a Means for Promoting Active Learning in Large Lecture Halls. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. 38(3):244-263.

This paper reports on a study that investigates an innovative Studio-based Java programming class that integrated lectures with in-class demonstrations, active learning exercises, and wireless laptop computers. It examines the learning attributes of this class and student attitudes toward this new learning environment and reports on the advantages and disadvantages of the use of wireless laptops in the classroom.

Breslow, L. "Educating the Larger Life". In The Reflective Spin: Case Studies of Teachers in Higher Education Transforming Action, edited by Ai-Yen Chen and John Van Maanen, 268-294. Singapore: World Scientific, 1999.

The chapter in this book, which chronicles how faculty “reflect in action” as they teach, describes a situation in which issues surrounding diversity arose in the classroom, and how the instructor used that discussion and subsequent classes to help students explore that issue.

Breslow, L., et al. An Intercultural Experiment in Pedagogy: MIT Adapts the University of Cambridge's Small-Group Teaching Model, Center for the Advancement of the Scholarship of Engineering Education (CASEE) Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN, October 2005.

In the fall semester 2004, the Mechanical Engineering Department at MIT and the Engineering Department at Cambridge University began a two-year series of educational experiments to understand the strengths of their different pedagogical methods in teaching the fundamentals of engineering. This poster reports on the results of MIT's efforts to integrate small group teaching, modeled on Cambridge's supervision system, into four traditional lecture/recitation courses.

Breslow, L. et al. Intellectual Curiosity: A Catalyst for the Scholarships of Teaching and Learning and Educational Development, Conference Proceedings of The University of Cambridge Conference on Academic Development: Engaging Faculty, Cambridge, U.K., December 2004.

Fifty educators from all over the world came together for a week at the University of Cambridge to explore ways in which faculty could be motivated to become involved in academic development.  This paper explores the premise that one of the key ways in which to engage colleagues in their development as critical and reflective teachers, in a way that goes beyond the hints and tips they may need at the beginning of their teaching careers, is to stimulate their intellectual curiosity.  It describes ways in which that can be accomplished.

Breslow, L. (2004).  Lessons Learned: Findings from Ten Formative Assessments of Educational Initiatives at MIT (2000-2003).

This working paper summarizes the most important findings from assessments done of educational innovations at MIT from 1999-2003. Findings are discussed both for initiatives that incorporated active learning pedagogies, and those that focused on the development of educational technologies.  Additionally, the report identifies several “best practices” for the design and implementation of reforms in teaching and learning in higher education, as well as for their assessment.

Breslow, L. Lessons Learned: Findings from Ten Formative Assessments of Educational Technology Initiatives at MIT (2000-2003)Conference Proceedings of the World Conference in Computers and Education (WCCE), Stellenbosch, South Africa, July 2005.

This paper is a meta-analysis of assessments of the projects undertaken under the auspices of MIT iCampus, a five-year alliance between MIT and Microsoft Research to develop innovative educational technology.  It describes the lessons that were learned about which educational technologies have been successful and why, which have not and why, and how findings educational technologies and the learning environments in which they operate impact one another.

Breslow, L.  Strategic Assessment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, e-Technologies in Engineering Education Conference, Davos, Switzerland, August 2002.

This paper describes the strategy that was developed to assess the projects that were to be undertaken as part of iCampus, a five-year alliance between MIT and Microsoft Research to develop innovative educational technology.  The strategy identified three specific areas to research: conceptual understanding, student engagement and interaction, and resource allocation.  Constraints in implementing the assessments were also discussed.

Breslow, L. (2003). Strengthening Interdisciplinary Education: A Preliminary Study.

In the fall semester 2002, a study was undertaken of students who were enrolled in “Human Pathology” (HST 030), a course taught within the Health Sciences and Technology (HST) program.  HST, a joint effort between the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Medical School, offers both the PhD in bioengineering and the MD degrees.  The purpose of the HST 030 study described in this working paper was to observe how the PhD students and MD students were being educated together.  The larger goal of the study was to identify the factors that contribute to the success of interdisciplinary courses, particularly their ability to train students to work across the boundaries of disciplines.

Epstein, A., Lipson, A., Bras, R. & Hodges, K. Terrascope: A Project-based, Team-Oriented Freshman Learning Community with an Environmental/Earth System Focus.  ASEE Conference Paper, Chicago, Illinois, June 2006.

This paper describes an innovative, year-long program in which freshmen work to find solutions for complex, interdisciplinary environmental and Earth system problems. The first semester class involves theoretical problem-solving and the second semester class involves engineering design/construction. The objective of the program is to develop students’ problem-solving, teamwork, research, and engineering design skills. The study described in this paper focuses on the second semester class and presents quantitative and qualitative results.

Greenberg, J., Smith, N. T., & Newman, J. H. (2003).  Instructional Module in Fourier Spectral Analysis, Based on Principles of “How People Learn.”  Journal of Engineering Education, 155-165.

This paper describes the design and evaluation of a module for teaching/learning Fourier spectral analysis based on the principles of “How People Learn” (HPL). Assessment of the module included developing rubrics for scoring understanding of key concepts in Fourier spectral analysis on lab reports and quizzes.   Application of these rubrics revealed that students who used the module demonstrated better understanding relative to a comparison group of students who studied the material using traditional methods.  Survey results and comments indicate that students generally liked the interactive tutorial and demonstration, as well as the structure provided by the HPL framework.

Halme, D., Khodor, J., Mitchell, R. & Walker, G. C. A Small-Scale Concept-Based Laboratory Component: The Best of Both Worlds. CBE-Life Sciences Education. (5):41-51.

The article describes an exploratory study of a small-scale, concept-driven, voluntary laboratory component of Introductory Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The study explored whether students' attitudes toward biology and their understanding of basic biological principles would improve through concept-based learning in a laboratory environment. Results indicate participation in the laboratory component, which featured both hands-on and minds-on components, improved student learning and retention of basic biological concepts

Lipson, A. (2006). The Impact of Computer Simulations on Student Learning in Science: A Selective Review of the Research Literature. (doc)

This literature review summarizes selected studies which examine the use of computer simulations in higher education science classrooms. This paper addresses the question of what does the literature say are the most effective ways to use computer simulations to enhance student learning. The aim of this working paper is twofold:  to provide educators with an overview of the literature so they will be better equipped to make their own decisions about the use of computer simulations and to simulate further research since many questions remain unanswered.

Mitchell R., Fischer J., & del Alamo J. A Survey Study of the Impact of a MIT Microelectronics Online Laboratory WebLab on Student LearningICEE 2006 Conference Proceedings, San Diego, CA, October 2006.

As part of the iCampus project, MIT developed the Microelectronics WebLab, an online microelectronics device characterization test station laboratory that provides students the opportunity to access remotely professional microelectronics characterization equipment via the Internet.  This paper describes a survey study of the WebLab experience of students enrolled in a junior-level microelectronics circuit and device design course that incorporated a number of WebLab assignments. Results indicate the interface enhanced learning and helped reasoning.

Mitchell, R., Regan-Smith, M., Fisher, M., Knox, I., & Lambert, D. A New Measure of the Cognitive, Metacognitive, and Experiential Aspects of Residents' Learning. Academic Medicine. (84):918-926.

"Psychometric data are presented for the Cognitive Behavior Survey: Residency Level (rCBS), a survey that profiles cognitive, metacognitive, and experiential aspects of residents' learning. ... Results provide preliminary support for scale reliability and construct validity. As residencies seek to meet expectations of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's Outcome Project, rCBS could prove useful in program evaluation, residents' self-assessment, and assessment by serving as a means to explore how residents learn, how residency programs affect learning behavior, and how clinically strong and weak residents differ in learning behaviors."

Vogel Taylor, E.M., Mitchell R., & Drennan, C.L. Creating an Interdisciplinary Introductory Chemistry Course without Time-Intensive Curriculum Changes. ACS Chemical Biology. (4):979-982.

"Ideally, an introductory chemistry course should inspire and equip students to recognize underlying chemical principles in other disciplines and solve interdisciplinary problems without sacrificing the original content in the course. Here we describe the development, implementation, and assessment of succinct examples from biology and medicine that illuminate applications of chemical principles. ... The materials are freely available to other educators and the public via MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) and are a straightforward way to apply the new AAMC-HHMI recommendations for more integrative courses to any general chemistry curriculum."

Winkler, T., Mitchell, R., & Venegas, J. Computer Simulation and a Realistic Simulator in Conjunction with the New Educational Style How People Learn (HPL) to Improve Learning AchievementsAnnual Meeting of American Society for Engineering Education, Portland, OR, June 2005.

The paper describes a study of the use of computational (Simuvent) and realistic simulations in the teaching of respiratory physiology at the Havard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST).   Results show significant changes in rating of students depending on how the computer simulation was used during the course. The use of a detailed introduction to a computer simulation and a challenging homework problem set, followed by experience with a realistic simulator and a debriefing session may improve performance in subsequent realistic situations when its use is maximized.

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