Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Geological and Atmospheric Sciences



First Advisor

Cinzia Cervato


In the 1960’s education research began to shift from behavioral learning theories to cognitive learning theories. This shift was driven by psychologists like Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky. Students were viewed as active participants in the learning process rather than passive learners. Research switched to how cognitive learning theories could be applied to education of students. This was the birth of active pedagogy. Current research is focused on comparing different active pedagogies. Recent research on student-centered classes and two-stage cooperative exams have shown positive effects in many fields. However, there is limited research on the effect in large (>100), introductory geology courses. This study is focused on the effect of changing from an interactive to a student-centered class with two-stage cooperative exams used in both settings. Students in consecutive fall semesters taught by the same professor were taught in an interactive pedagogy and then a student-centered pedagogy. Four exams were administered in each semester and kept the same between semesters for comparison. The student-centered class had significantly higher final grades compared to the interactive class. Within the student-centered class, male and STEM majors had significantly higher grades compared with female and non-STEM majors. Both classes show an increase in the retention of material from the first exam to the final exam. The student-centered class had significant improvement in normalized change scores from the beginning to the end of the semester and compared with the interactive class.

Copyright Owner

Theresa Ann Halligan



File Format


File Size

41 pages

Included in

Geology Commons