A Comparison of Lecture-Based and Challenge-Based Learning in a Workplace Setting: Course Designs, Patterns of Interactivity, and Learning Outcomes
Timothy K. O’Mahony ; Nancy J. Vye ; John D. Bransford ; Elizabeth A. Sanders ; Reed Stevens ; Richard D. Stephens ; Michael C. Richey ; Kuen Y. Lin ; Moe K. Soleiman

Journal of the Learning Sciences

Abstract

We describe findings from a research partnership involving a global airline manufacturing company (The Boeing Company), and learning scientists and aeronautical engineers from the University of Washington. Our starting point for the partnership focused on an 8-hour introductory composites course that was designed for company employees. In phase one, learning scientists observed the company’s course development activities and the course as taught by company experts. In phase two, we collaboratively designed and implemented a quasi-experimental study comparing two approaches to teaching. One involved lectures with PowerPoint slides. The second, a “challenge-based” learning approach, combined a set of composites-relevant challenges with individual, small-group, and large-group collaborative inquiry. Comparisons between these methods showed greater interaction among participants in the challenge-based group. In addition, the challenge-based group performed significantly better on posttest items requiring integration and synthesis of concepts. Increased interactivity in the challenge course provided opportunities for participants to articulate connections among concepts and may have contributed to the challenge participants’ better synthesis of learned concepts. This work highlighted the benefits for learning scientists of collaborating with industry partners to explore learning in workplace settings, as these settings provide illuminating contrasts to the structures of teaching, learning, and assessment found in schools.

Audience: Researchers

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Category: Research