Engaging science academics with evidence based practices: Use of concept inventories in chemistry and physics across eight universities

Helen Georgiou, Manjula Sharma


There is ongoing research on how to improve student engagement and attainment in STEM in higher education, with active learning recognised as a feasible approach for several decades now. However, the uptake of active learning, and other evidence-based approaches, is inconsistent. This paper reports on one aspect of an Australian Government funded Fellowship; the specific scholarly practice of the use of concept inventories, widely associated with active learning, to engage academics in evidence-based practices in STEM disciplines. The ultimate aim was to equip lecturers with the tools to measure student attainment. In close collaboration with academics, pre- and post-tests were administered to students in a total of 12 different courses, constituting over 3000 individual student questionnaires collected across eight Australian Universities. We report on the implementation focusing on; engaging staff, the types of concept survey results made visible to staff not generally accustomed to seeing such results, and tentatively offer the possibility of national data on learning gains. Results show that the majority of lecturers engaged and continued the use of concept inventories. Our study demonstrates that concerted use of concept inventories might lead to increased uptake of evidence-based approaches with potential for improved teaching and learning in STEM disciplines.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30722/IJISME.28.04.003