Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

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What’s the Eberly Center reading and thinking about this month?

The Research and Scholarship Digest, published the first Monday of each month, consists of short summaries of recently peer-reviewed studies on teaching and learning topics. This digest offers a view into what we are reading and thinking about at the Eberly Center that:

• adds to our understanding of how students learn
• is potentially generalizable across teaching contexts in higher education
• provokes reflection on implications for our teaching and educational development practices.

We hope the readers of this digest will find it a useful resource for staying in-tune with the rapidly expanding education research literature.

November 2018

Dividing attention in the classroom reduces exam performance

118 students were randomly-assigned students in two identical course sections, and were either allowed to use mobile devices during certain (controlled) class periods or not. They completed paired questions in class and later on exams to measure both the short term and long term impacts of device distraction. Although it had no effect on their immediate recall of information (based on in-class questions), students in the no-device sessions retained significantly more information than students in the device-allowed sessions, regardless of whether devices were chosen to be used in those sessions or not.  
Glass, A. L., & Kang, M. (2018). Educational Psychology, 1-14.
[link to article]

Two-stage examinations: Can examinations be more formative experiences?

This paper examines the effect of two-stage examinations, which are exams that feature both an individual and collaborative component, on student performance. Two-stage examinations were administered 11 times to five successive cohorts of students (N = 899) in a variety of courses for both midterm and final examinations between 2013 and 2017. Researchers compared the group's individual average scores to the group score. Researchers used these scores to identify individual-to-group gains in performance and individual-to-top student gains in performance.  Overall, the authors found that two-stage exams offered substantial performance gains for individuals when working in the group stage, and that students perceived two-stage exams as more helpful and less stressful than traditional exams. 

Levy, D., Svoronos, T., & Klinger, M. (2018). Active Learning in Higher Education, 1469787418801668.
[link to article]

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