Disciplinary variations in student perceptions of active learning classrooms

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

10 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Article number100131
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Educational Research Open
Online published8 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022



The use of active learning classrooms (ALCs) has attracted considerable attention in higher education research in the past two decades. Researchers have reported the positive effects of ALCs on student learning. However, most of the published studies on the topic have been based on just one or a handful of academic disciplines. In this work, we conducted a large-scale empirical study across different academic disciplines, aiming to uncover whether there was any disciplinary variation in student perceptions about their learning experiences when ALCs were adopted as the key learning environment. During the four-year period of study, more than 30,000 students’ quantitative responses from 550 undergraduate courses across different disciplines were collected. Independent-samples t-test results revealed that when ALCs were used for courses in the sciences, technologies, arts, and humanities, students perceived themselves to have had significantly better experiences in three aspects of learning: the encouragement of innovation and creativity, course design, and support for critical thinking. Students enrolled in courses under the disciplinary area of the study of societies also reported a slight benefit from being taught in ALCs. In contrast, these three aspects of learning were not reported to be enhanced by ALCs among students who were studying business organization courses. Nonetheless, students studying courses across all of the disciplines felt that the course content was less difficult when ALCs were used. The results of this work suggest that student perceptions of their learning experiences and the level of positive effects on ALCs are indeed varied across academic disciplines.

Research Area(s)

  • Active learning, Active learning classroom, Learning space, Student perception

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