Undergraduate Students’ Perceptions of Features of Active Learning Models for Teaching and Learning to Teach Mathematics

Michelle Cirillo, Dawn Berk, Raymond LaRochelle, Kristen N. Bieda, Fran Arbaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The recent push toward active learning – engaging students in the learning process – is meant to benefit students. Yet there is still much to learn about students’ perceptions of this phenomenon. We share results from an interview study of students’ perceptions of features of two active learning models institutionalized at a large doctoral-granting university – a model for teaching foundational mathematics courses and an early field experience model for teaching preservice secondary students to teach mathematics. These models were implemented simultaneously in a single precalculus course. Interviews were conducted with both student populations (i.e., precalculus students and preservice teachers) to understand which in-class features of the models students noticed and identified as beneficial to their learning. Precalculus students identified specific opportunities related to active learning in the undergraduate mathematics teaching model – working in groups on mathematics tasks that engaged students in sensemaking and interacting with their instructor around mathematics. Preservice teachers identified specific opportunities related to three features of the university field experience model – observing a mathematics instructor enacting ambitious instructional practices, planning and teaching a “real” lesson, and observing student thinking and practicing teaching moves during groupwork. We conclude with pedagogical recommendations about particular features of the models that may help mitigate student resistance to active learning.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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