In small groups, participants discussed the day’s presentations. The following points emerged during the summaries of those discussions:
Systemic reform is difficult and takes time. The research base is more developed than it was 10 years ago, but practice has not changed on a broad scale. Gaps in the evidence still exist, and evidence alone is not sufficient to drive change.
The evidence suggests that teaching methods matter and that some instructional strategies are more effective than others. For example, active, cooperative learning seems to work in different contexts.
The research does not fully illustrate why certain practices work, for which students, and in which contexts. Additional gaps include research on the affective domain, instructor effects (implementation of the promising practice, relationship with students, and belief in students’ abilities), the effect of culture, students’ social construction of knowledge, the expert-novice continuum, departmental and institutional change, and cost-benefit analyses.
Dissemination of promising practices could be more effective. The disparate pieces have not been pulled together into a coherent whole.
The learning goals of a particular promising practice should determine what evidence and methods are required to determine its effectiveness.
Different stakeholders—students, faculty, administrators, industry—have different standards of evidence and different metrics for success.