Integrating active learning labs in precalculus: Measuring the value added

Janet Bowers*, Wendy Smith, Lixin Ren, Robert Hanna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The need to incorporate active learning (AL) in higher education has become a prominent issue discussed by major leadership organizations such as the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences (CBMS, 2016). These calls for AL are based on a large and growing body of research documenting the correlation between AL use and reduced failure rates, deeper conceptual understanding, and increased retention in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses. However, the dependent variables in these studies are usually final grades or results of tests. At this point, there is a need to devise new ways to measure the specific role that AL use plays in enhancing student engagement practices. To that end, this article first discusses the validity of a survey to measure students’ views of how their opportunities to engage in AL practices differed between lecture and break-out sessions and then discusses the results of the survey. The nature of the survey enabled us to identify two student engagement practices that were most enhanced through the use of AL: (a) opportunities to explore novel solutions to real-world situations and (b) opportunities to critique the reasoning of others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInvestigations in Mathematics Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Active learning
  • course redesign
  • mathematics instruction
  • standards for mathematical practice
  • undergraduate learning


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