Evidence-Based Teaching Methods (EBTMs)

The 2012 President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report "Engage to Excel"1 called for the use of EBTMs in college classrooms to engage students and promote learning in STEM classrooms and to retain students in these fields.  Although originally for STEM courses, EBTMs can be useful for instructors in any discipline.  Moving away from passive, lecture-based pedagogies, EBTMs utilize active learning strategies that allow students to engage with the material in class.  These methods encourage higher order thinking and have been shown to be effective at promoting student success across diverse groups of students.

Examples of EBTMs include:

  • Think-Pair-Share
    The instructor poses a question to the class and students individually think about the answer.  Then, students discuss the answer with a partner and the instructor selects pairs to explain their consensus answer to the class.  Using multiple choice questions and clickers can help facilitate this strategy in large classes.  This short Think-Pair-Share video from the K. Patricia Cross Academy describes the technique and how it encourages students to participate in classroom discussion.
  • One-minute papers
    The instructor poses an open-ended question to students and allows one minute for students to write their answers on an index card, which is collected by the instructor.  Questions can ask students for the most important concept of the class or what remains unclear to assess student understanding of the material.
  • Effective use of clickers
    "Clickers" are a handheld classroom response system that allows the instructor to obtain immediate feedback on student learning.  The instructor poses a question (typically multiple choice) and students submit their responses via the clicker.  Software on the instructor's computer tallies the responses and creates a chart showing how many students selected each choice.  Using clickers requires students to purchase a handheld device and the instructor to be familiar with the technology; however, the underlying concept of polling can be executed by a simple show of hands.  Added benefit is seen when having student discuss the reasons they selected their answers with a partner or group, similar to the Think-Pair-Share.        

This Student-Centered Teaching Methods list compiled from the PCAST report contains descriptions of several EBTMs, including references for the effectiveness of each method and links to examples.

1PCAST (2012) Engage to Excell:  Producing one million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.