A delicate balance: Integrating active learning into a large lecture course

J. D. Walker, Sehoya H. Cotner, Paul M. Baepler, Mark D. Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


A lecture section of introductory biology that historically enrolled more than 500 students was split into two smaller sections of approximately 250 students each. A traditional lecture format was followed in the "traditional" section; lecture time in the "active" section was drastically reduced in favor of a variety of in-class student-centered activities. Students in both sections took unannounced quizzes and multiple-choice exams. Evaluation consisted of comparisons of student survey responses, scores on standardized teaching evaluation forms, section averages and attendance, and open-ended student comments on end-of-term surveys. Results demonstrate that students perform as well, if not better, in an active versus traditional environment. However, student concerns about instructor expectations indicate that a judicious balance of student-centered activities and presentation-style instruction may be the best approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-367
Number of pages7
JournalCBE life sciences education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


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