idea that graduate students can apply disciplinary research skills to address questions about teaching and student learning in their classroom. Learning communities bring individuals together across disciplinary and generational boundaries to create and share knowledge. Learning through diversity is grounded in the view that each individual’s background enriches the learning environment. Gillian-Daniel hypothesized that the combination of these elements is crucial to the Delta program’s effectiveness.
Gillian-Daniel presented two examples to illustrate the Delta Program’s impact on teaching and learning.1 The first example addressed the effect of improved teaching on student learning. In that study, a Delta Program alumnus and his colleagues examined whether the combination of a multimedia learning object, lectures, and laboratory improved student learning about fuel cells (Lux et al., 2007). The researchers assessed the effect of the learning object with pre- and post-quizzes and used a web-based questionnaire to elicit student opinions about the value of the different course components. Correct responses on the quizzes increased from 42 percent in the pretest to 80 percent after the instructors introduced the learning object. In addition, 100 percent of the students in the laboratory were able to create a functional fuel cell (Lux et al., 2007).
The second example focused on the development of skills and pedagogical techniques in faculty members. In this example, a Delta Program alumna examined whether students who were taught with active learning strategies changed their views about such strategies in their own teaching (McNeil and Ogle, 2008). The researchers developed a seminar course that required students to prepare a 45-minute lecture on a topic in their discipline that incorporated one or more active learning techniques. Pre-post course evaluations included questions such as “If you were preparing a lecture, list the steps that you would go through.” After the course, students reported that they would take more steps to prepare for a lecture, including ones related to integrating active learning components (McNeil and Ogle, 2008).
Discussing gaps in the research, Gillian-Daniel cited the need for longitudinal studies to understand how professional development programs for future faculty affect their teaching practice throughout their careers. In a related vein, he called for longitudinal studies to examine how reformed teaching in introductory courses affects undergraduate students over the course of their college careers. He also stressed the importance of identifying the effective elements of existing programs, which would involve developing common metrics or benchmarks to measure program outcomes.
For additional examples of the Delta program’s effectiveness, see the workshop paper by Gillian-Daniel (see http://www.nationalacademies.org/bose/Gillian_Daniel_CommissionedPaper.pdf).