Skip to content
See our Campus Ready site for the most up to date information about instruction.Campus ReadyCOVID Help

Education Research Bibliography

This resource is a running list of seminal references and annotations for education research. Use the links to select your desired topic or browse through the list. If you have questions or need further assistance, please contact the Teaching Commons staff.

For additional UC Merced research resources, see the Center for Institutional Effectiveness for data reports, visualizations, and statistics. Need some support to conceptualize change efforts? See this article on Logic Models

Student Success

Active Learning

Learner-Centered Instruction and Curriculum Design

Student Engagement and Motivation

Assessment and Evaluation 


Seminal References and Annotations

 

Student Success

  1. Engle, J. and Tinto, V. (2008). Moving Beyond Access: College Success for Low-Income, First-Generation Students. The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education.
    • A collection of articles. Great source of statistics on how low-income, first-gen students fare in post-secondary education today. Discusses how we can promote college access and success; why college retention matters; Who these students are, retention and completion rates.
  2. Finley, A., and McNair, T. (2013). Assessing Underserved Students’ Engagement in High-Impact Practices. American Association of Colleges and Universities.
    • This series of articles explores the impact of high-impact practices (Kuh, 2008). Suggested inquiry models are proposed and guiding questions for advancing campus efforts to improve learning and promote the success of underserved students are provided.
  3. Salehi, S., Burkholder, E., Lepage, G. P., et al., (2019). Demographic gaps or preparation gaps?: The large impact of incoming preparation on the performance of students in introductory physics. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 15(2).
  4. Shay, J.E., and Pohan, C. (2021). Resilient instructional strategies: Helping students cope and thrive in crisis. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, Vol. 22, No 1, 1-8. DOI: 10.1128/jmbe.v11i1.2405 
    • This article provides an overview of evidence-based pedagogical and technological approaches designed to promote resilient student-centered classrooms and facilitate student development and care during times of crisis. These strategies (e.g., amplifying critical content and reduce cognitive load; build community & collaboration; employ engagement strategies; and rethink assessment are critical in times of crisis (e.g., Covid-19), but they are equally important to the success of students who come to us having endured trauma and/or challenging life circumstances.
  5. Tinto, V. and Pusser, B, (2006) Moving from theory to action: Building a model of institutional action for student success, National Postsecondary Education Cooperative, Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

 

Active Learning

There are some benefits associated with the implementation of active-learning pedagogies (Chickering and Gamson, 1987; Hake, 1998; Crouch and Mazur, 2001; Ruiz-Primo et al., 2011; Prince, 2004; Knight and Wood, 2005; Maciejewski, 2015; Smith et al., 2005; Ong et al., 2011; Singer and Smith, 2013; Freeman et al., 2014; Tomkin et al., 2019) as practices that improve learning for all students, particularly those from diverse backgrounds. Denaro et al. (2021) noted a national focus on implementing evidence-based teaching practices to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has been promoted by, among others, the National Research Council (2012), the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (2012), and the Association of American Universities (2019).

 

  1. Crimmins & Midkiff (2017). High structure active learning pedagogy for the teaching of organic chemistry: Assessing the impact on academic outcomes. J. Chem. Educ., 94, 429-438. DOI: 10:1021/acs.jchemed.6b00663
    • This study looks at the learning differences between students that received a high structured, active learning approach versus those that received traditional, unstructured, lecture pedagogy. “The study is significant in its causal analysis of the impact of highly structured active learning on academic outcomes” (p. 1).
  2. Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, et al., (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410–8415. http://www.pnas.org/content/111/23/8410
  3. Patton, C. M. (2015). Employing active learning strategies to become the facilitator, not the authoritarian: A literature review.  Journal of Instructional Research, Vol. 4, 134-141.
    • Most educators in higher education still use the traditional lecture approach to teaching... but “much empirical evidence suggests that student outcomes improve with a more active learning approach, where the educator takes on the role of a facilitator, taking into consideration students’ learning styles[preferences], attention spans, and specific needs.
  4. Theobald, E. J., Hill, M. J., Tran, E., et al., (2020). Active learning narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented students in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117 (12), 6476‒6483. https://www.pnas.org/content/117/12/6476

 

Learner-Centered Instruction and Curriculum Design

Learner-Centered Instruction:

Weimer (2013) defines teacher-centered instruction as lecture-based teaching wherein students are “passive recipients of knowledge” (p. 64). She characterizes learner-centered teaching as “teaching focused on learning—what the students are doing is the central concern of the teacher” (p. 15). Weimer delineates five principles of learner-centered teaching, which are 1) to engage students in their learning, 2) to motivate and empower students by providing them some control over their own learning, 3) to encourage collaboration and foster a learning community, 4) to guide students to reflect on what and how they learn, and 5) to explicitly teach students skills on how to learn. Of note, various terms are used in the literature to refer to strategies that are related to learner-centered teaching (e.g., active learning, student-centered teaching).

A recommended practice that can support the implementation of learner-centered teaching is the use of the backward design (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005). The backward design model involves the articulation of learning goals, designing an assessment that measures achievement of the learning goals, and developing activities that are aligned with the assessment and learning goals.

Curriculum Design:

Alignment of course activities and testing strategies with learning outcomes is critical to effective course design (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998; Sundberg, 2002; Ebert-May et al., 2003; Fink, 2003; Tanner and Allen, 2004; Bissell and Lemons, 2006).

One approach is to use Bloom's Taxonomy of cognitive domains (Bloom et al., 1956), hereafter referred to as “Bloom's.” Bloom's is a well-defined and broadly accepted tool for categorizing types of thinking into six different levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. A revised version of Bloom's (Anderson et al., 2001) further subcategorizes the original taxonomy and converts the different category titles to their active verb counterparts: remember, understand, apply, analyze, create, and evaluate. Bloom's has been used widely since the 1960s in K-12 education (Kunen et al., 1981; Imrie, 1995) but has seen only limited application in selected disciplines in higher education (Demetrulias and McCubbin, 1982; Ball and Washburn, 2001; Taylor et al., 2002; Athanassiou et al., 2003).

 

  1. Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., et al., (2010). How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, Ca’: Jossey-Bass.
    • The book draws on research in education, psychology, and cognitive science to help instructors better understand how learning works. The authors apply the science of learning to college teaching and provide tactical strategies to address common challenges in the classroom. This is a great resource for some of the leading research.
  2. Bloom B S., Krathwohl D. R., Masia B. B. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals, New York, NY: D. McKay
  3. Fink, L.D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  4. Peterson, C. I., et al. (2020). The tyranny of content: “Content coverage” as a barrier to evidence-based teaching approaches and ways to overcome it. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 19. DOI:10.1187/cbe.19-04-007.
    • The belief held by instructors that we must cover all the material outlined in the syllabus [or textbook] often results in shallow learning because students don’t have adequate time to engage meaningfully with the content during class. The authors propose that moving away from a teacher-centered, content-coverage approach to a more student-centered approach focusing on core content and competencies will help students retain and apply new information to novel situations.
  5. Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-Centered Teaching, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  6. Wiggins, G.P., McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design, Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    • The belief held by instructors that we must cover all the material outlined in the syllabus [or textbook] often results in shallow learning because students don’t have adequate time to engage meaningfully with the content during class. The authors propose that moving away from a teacher-centered, content-coverage approach will help students retain and apply new information to novel situations.

 

Student Engagement and Motivation

  1. Prince, M. J., Felder, R. M., and Brent, R. (2020). Active student engagement in online STEM classes: Approaches and recommendations. Advances in Engineering Education, 8(4). https://tinyurl.com/ALonline-AEE
  2. Schraw, G., Crippen, K.J., & Hartley, K. (2006). Promoting self-regulation in science education: Metacognition as part of a broader perspective on learning. Research in Science Education, 36: 111-139. DOI: 10:1007/s11165-005-3917-8
    • Based on extensive research, this article defines three components of self-regulated learning, including cognition, metacognition, and motivation. The authors introduce six strategies for improving self-regulated learning in the science classroom: inquiry-based learning, the role of collaborative support, strategy and problem-solving instruction, the construction of mental models, the use of technology to support learning, and the role of personal beliefs such as self-efficacy and epistemological world views.
  3. Wester, E.R., Walsh, L. L., Arango-Caro, S., & Callis-Duehl, K.L. (2021). Student engagement declines in STEM undergraduates during Covid-19 driven remote learning. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1-11.
    • “Student engagement plays a crucial role in students’ motivation, self-regulated learning, retention of information, general well-being, and other factors that influence a student’s academic achievement” (9). This study examined the impact of the shift in the learning environment from in-person to online [remote] during Covid 19 on three constructs of student engagement: behavioral, cognitive, and emotional.  Defines what makes up these constructs (e.g., affective learning = self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and science identity).

 

Assessment and Evaluation

SATAL program description: At UC Merced, a research-intensive institution in the Western United States, the undergraduates from the Students Assessing Teaching and Learning (SATAL) program partner with faculty to conduct multiple assessment research projects. SATAL undergraduates work in teams with faculty focused on pedagogical and curricular exploration with the desire to have the students’ experiences and perspectives inform classroom practice to create more inclusive classrooms (Signorini & Pohan 2019). SATAL implements a wide range of assessment tools for gathering student perspectives on their learning experience and engagement at different points throughout the term.

There is value in-classroom observation data that provide an objective way to identify what both the student and instructor are doing within a classroom (Smith et al., 2013, 2014; Wieman, 2016). These observations give a more standardized assessment of the class compared with surveys, responses to which may be influenced by student and instructor interpretation or bias. These data can then be used in the assessment of the effectiveness of instructional strategies.

 

  1. Angelo, T. A.,  and Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p.148-53.
  2. Smith, C.D., Worsfold, K., Davies, L., et al., (2013). Assessment literacy and student learning: The case for explicitly developing students’ assessment literacy. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education,
    Vol. 38, No. 1, 44–60, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2011.598636  
    • The results of this study indicate that the greatest predictor of enhanced student performance on an assessment task (used in this experiment) was the development of the students’ ability to judge actual works against criteria and standards. In other words, helping students to develop the ability to judge their work and that of others will likely enhance their own learning outcomes. An important takeaway is that “gains typically attributable to formative feedback could be enhanced not by a more detailed explication of the feedback by lecturers but rather by deploying assessment literacy (judgment)-enhancing protocols at the formative feedback points during the semester (58).
  3. Suskie, L. A. (2018). Assessing student learning: a common sense guide. 3rd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

If SATAL is included in the proposal, we suggest adding the references below:

  1. Clark, D. J. & Redmond, M. V. (1982). Small Group Instruction Diagnosis: Final Report (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 217954).
  2. Signorini, A., & Pohan, C. A. (2019). Exploring the impact of the Students Assessing Teaching and Learning Program, International Journal for Students as Partners, 3(2). https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v3i2.3683
  3. Smith, M. K., Vinson, E. L., Smith, J. A., et al., (2014). A campus-wide study of STEM courses: New perspectives on teaching practices and perceptions. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 13(4), 624–635. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.14-06-0108arXiv: https://doi.org/
10.1187/cbe.14-06-0108 PMID: 25452485.
  4. Stains, M., Harshman, J., Barker, M. K., et al., (2018). Anatomy of STEM teaching in North American universities. Science, 359(6383), 1468–1470. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aap8892 arXiv: hTtps://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6383/1468.full.pdf.