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Author Notes:

Address correspondence to: Christopher W. Beck (christopher.beck@emory.edu).

We thank Tom McKlin and Shelly Engelman of the Findings Group for their help in survey development and initial data analysis. We also thank Beth Schussler for pointing us in the direction of some relevant literature. Members of the Science Education Research Journal Club at Emory University provided valuable feedback on an earlier draft of the manuscript. The study was approved by the institutional review boards of Morehouse College and Emory University.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessary reflect the views of the NSF.


Research Funding:

The study was funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) grants DUE-0815135 and DUE-0814373 to Morehouse College and Emory University, respectively.

Alternative Realities: Faculty and Student Perceptions of Instructional Practices in Laboratory Courses


Journal Title:

CBE-Life Sciences Education


Volume 15, Number 4


, Pages ar52-ar52

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Curricular reform efforts depend on our ability to determine how courses are taught and how instructional practices affect student outcomes. In this study, we developed a 30-question survey on inquiry-based learning and assessment in undergraduate laboratory courses that was administered to 878 students in 54 courses (41 introductory level and 13 upper level) from 20 institutions (four community colleges, 11 liberal arts colleges, and five universities, of which four were minority-serving institutions). On the basis of an exploratory factor analysis, we defined five constructs: metacognition, feedback and assessment, scientific synthesis, science process skills, and instructor-directed teaching. Using our refined survey of 24 items, we compared student and faculty perceptions of instructional practices both across courses and across instructors. In general, faculty and student perceptions were not significantly related. Although mean perceptions were often similar, faculty perceptions were more variable than those of students, suggesting that faculty may have more nuanced views than students. In addition, student perceptions of some instructional practices were influenced by their previous experience in laboratory courses and their self-efficacy. As student outcomes, such as learning gains, are ultimately most important, future research should examine the degree to which faculty and student perceptions of instructional practices predict student outcomes in different contexts.

Copyright information:

© 2016 C. W. Beck and L. S. Blumer. CBE—Life Sciences Education © 2016 The American Society for Cell Biology. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s).

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).

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