The State of Active Learning in the Atmospheric Sciences: Strategies Instructors Use and Directions for Future Research
Extensive research within STEM fields has demonstrated that active learning leads to greater educational success for students relative to traditional lecture methods. While studies have explored active learning use across various STEM fields, minimal research has focused specifically on the atmospheric sciences. A baseline knowledge of the use of active learning in this field is vital for determining instructional effectiveness and can identify areas for improvement.
The goal of this study is to provide a baseline regarding the state of active learning within the atmospheric sciences, including understanding what active learning strategies are most widely used, their frequency of use, and who is using them. Atmospheric science instructors were invited to participate in an online survey to provide information about their active learning use in the classroom and resources used to learn more about active learning strategies. Survey results indicate that case studies are the most popular high-use active learning strategy across all levels of instruction, though how they are implemented within the classroom is not clear. New atmospheric science instructors, instructors beyond the typical 5 year tenure mark, and female instructors exhibit the highest number of unique active learning strategies. Future work stresses the need for a larger sample size and more direct classroom observation of instructors using active learning.