Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Soonhye Park

Second Advisor

Renee S. Cole

Abstract

Recent advancements in instructional technology and interactive learning space designs have transformed how undergraduate classrooms are envisioned and conducted today. Large number of research studies have documented the impact of instructional technology and interactive learning spaces on elevated student learning gains, positive attitudes, and increased student engagement in undergraduate classrooms across nation. These research findings combined with the movement towards student-centered instructional strategies have motivated college professors to explore the unfamiliar territories of instructional technology and interactive learning spaces. Only a limited number of research studies that explored college professors’ perspective on instructional technology and interactive learning space use in undergraduate classrooms exist in the education research literature. Since college professors are an essential factor in undergraduate students’ academic success, investigating how college professors perceive and utilize instructional technology and interactive learning environments can provide insights into designing effective professional development programs for college professors across undergraduate institutions. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate college professors’ pedagogical reasoning behind incorporating different types of instructional technologies and teaching strategies to foster student learning in technology-infused interactive learning environments. Furthermore, this study explored the extent to which college professors’ instructional decisions and practices are affected by teaching in an interactive learning space along with their overall perception of instructional technology and interactive learning spaces.

Four college professors from a large public Midwestern university who taught undergraduate science courses in a classroom based on the ‘SCALE-UP model’ participated in this study. Major data sources included classroom observations, interviews and questionnaires. An enumerative approach and the constant comparative method were utilized to analyze the data. According to the results obtained, all the participating college professors of this study employed a variety of instructional technologies and learning space features to actively engage their students in classroom activities. Participants were largely influenced by the instructional technology and the learning space features at lesson planning and execution stages whereas this influence was less notable at the student assessment stage. Overall, college professors perceive technology-infused interactive learning environments to be advantageous in terms of enabling flexibility and creativity along with easy facilitation of classroom activities. However, they felt challenged when designing effective classroom activities and preferred continuous professional development support. Overall, college professors’ pedagogical decision making process, their perceived benefits and challenges seemed to be interrelated and centered on the learners and the learning process.

Primary implication of this study is to implement effective professional development programs for college professors which enable them to familiarize themselves with student-centered pedagogy and effective classroom activity design along with the novel trends in learning space design and instructional technologies. Furthermore, higher education institutions need to devise incentives and recognition measures to appreciate college professors’ contributions to advance scholarship of teaching and learning.

Public Abstract

Recent advancements in instructional technology and interactive learning space designs have transformed how undergraduate classrooms are conducted today. A large number of research studies have documented the positive impacts of these innovative instructional strategies on student learning gains and student engagement. Since college professors are an essential factor in undergraduate students’ academic success, investigating how college professors perceive and utilize these innovative instructional strategies can provide insights into designing effective professional development programs. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the extent to which college professors’ instructional decisions and practices are affected by teaching in an interactive learning space. Four college professors from a large public Midwestern university who taught undergraduate science courses in a classroom based on the ‘SCALE-UP model’ participated in this study. Major data sources included classroom observations, interviews and questionnaires. A constant comparative method was used to identify the common patterns that emerged from the data.

Findings of this study showed that all four college professors employed a variety of instructional technologies and learning space features such as team-based learning, inquiry-guided learning, and hands-on learning to actively engage their students in classroom activities. Overall, college professors perceive technology-infused interactive learning environments to be advantageous in terms of enabling flexibility and creativity along with easy facilitation of classroom activities. However, they felt challenged when designing effective classroom activities and preferred continuous professional development support. Furthermore, college professors revealed the value of being recognized by their colleagues for their involvement in advancing the scholarship of teaching.

Keywords

publicabstract, Faculty development, Innovative instructional strategies, Innovative learning space designs, Instructional technology, Undergraduate education

Pages

xiii, 165 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 155-165).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Chamathca Priyanwada Kuda-Malwathumullage

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