Science, technology, engineering and math classes are mostly taught using lectures, according to a new study. However, studies have shown lectures are less effective than other methods of teaching, so UNC and other universities are rethinking how to teach STEM classes in order to better engage students.
Marilyne Stains, one of the authors of the study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said the motivation for performing the study was the lack of understanding of what is going on in STEM classrooms around the country.
“It was really to try to understand what’s happening out there,” Stains said. “We know there is a movement toward transforming STEM teaching, but is it really happening?”
Stains said most studies on this topic focus on one instructional practice or one institution, and there are very few studies that give a sense of what is happening nationwide.
To perform the study, Stains and her colleagues observed over 2,000 STEM classes and over 500 STEM faculty. They identified 12 common teaching behaviors that occurred in STEM classrooms, and they recorded which of those behaviors was being displayed at two minute intervals throughout the class. Based on their observations, they identified three broad instructional styles: didactic, interactive and student-centered.