Common characteristics of high-quality papers studying student response to active learning

Caroline Crockett, Cynthia J. Finelli, Mattdemonbrun, Kevin Anguyen, Sneha Tharayil, Prateek Shekhar, Robyn S. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Active learning is increasingly used in engineering classrooms to improve student learning and engagement. Although students tend to respond positively to the introduction of active learning, some instructors experience negative student responses. Determining why and how to alleviate such negative responses is an open research question. Because there are many contextual variables to consider, we believe this question will best be addressed by increasing the number of faculty who are able to study their own implementation of active learning. This paper examines the underlying characteristics of 27 high-quality papers on student response to active learning. Using a six step research framework, this paper: (1) discusses common categories of research questions, (2) offers rules of thumb for literature reviews, (3) provides example theories, (4) discusses the data collected by qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies and how the data is analyzed, (5) points to different approaches for data presentation, and (6) lists elements which authors typically include in their description of context and discussion sections. We offer literature-driven recommendations for faculty to help them quickly adopt good practices for how to share evidence based on their experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-432
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Engineering


  • Active learning
  • Student response
  • Systematic literature review


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