Skip to main content

Exploring Shifts in Student Attitudes Toward Group Exams in College Calculus: The Case of Dane

Abstract

As university instructors update modes of teaching and student engagement in STEM classes, concerns often arise about student resistance to different methods of teaching and learning. This research examines what it looks like from a student perspective to experience a shift in attitude by exploring the case of Dane, a white male student who changed his perspective from opposition to support of group exams in calculus. Part of this shift included a change in Dane’s view of his relation to others, as he began to see how working with others benefited himself, consider others’ experiences, and recognize how group exams can be helpful to everyone. We consider how Dane’s experience and attitudes are likely influenced by the racialized and gendered nature of mathematics, and we explore factors of Dane’s calculus classes that contributed to his shift in beliefs. Dane’s story raises questions about instructors’ role in not only working to garner student support for new teaching and learning practices, but interrogating deeper beliefs about what it means to do mathematics and the role of others in students’ mathematics engagement. This research also highlights the importance of exploring students’ experiences and attitudes in relation to the larger sociopolitical context of mathematics.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    A student did not show up for one of the focus groups, resulting in one “group” with only one participant.

  2. 2.

    As Dane said the words “air quotes,” he used his fingers to make quotes in the air.

  3. 3.

    All examples in this section come from the interview. Since the instructor conducted the focus group, reflections on the impact of the instructor primarily emerged during the interview.

  4. 4.

    We use the term Latin* intentionally to include the fluid nature of social identities for people of the Latin American diaspora (Leyva et al., 2021; Salinas, 2020).

References

  1. Abell, M. L., Braddy, L., Ensley, D., Ludwig, L., Soto, H., & Project Leadership Team. (2017). Instructional Practices Guide. https://www.maa.org/programs-and-communities/curriculum%20resources/instructional-practices-guide

  2. Adiredja, A. P., & Andrews-Larson, C. (2017). Taking the sociopolitical turn in postsecondary mathematics education research. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, 3(3), 444–465.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Aguirre, J., Herbel-Eisenmann, B., Celedón-Pattichis, S., Civil, M., Wilkerson, T., Stephan, M., Pape, S., & Clements, D. H. (2017). Equity within mathematics education research as a political act: Moving from choice to intentional collective professional responsibility. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 48(2), 124–147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Andrews, T. M., Leonard, M. J., Colgrove, C. A., & Kalinowski, S. T. (2011). Active learning not associated with student learning in a random sample of college biology courses. CBE–Life Sciences Education, 10(4), 394–405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Asher, M., Asnaani, A., & Aderka, I. M. (2017). Gender differences in social anxiety disorder: A review. Clinical Psychology Review, 56, 1–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bagley, S. (2020). The flipped classroom, lethal mutations, and the didactical contract: A cautionary tale. Primus, 30(3), 243–260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Battey, D., & Leyva, L. A. (2016). A Framework for Understanding Whiteness in Mathematics Education. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 9(2), 49–80.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bevitt, S. (2015). Assessment innovation and student experience: A new assessment challenge and call for a multi-perspective approach to assessment research. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(1), 103–119. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2014.890170

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Train-the-trainers: Implementing outcomes-based teaching and learning in Malaysian higher education. Malaysian Journal of Learning and Instruction, 8, 1–19.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bloom, D. (2009). Collaborative test taking: Benefits for learning and retention. College Teaching, 57(4), 216–220.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Braun, B., Bremser, P., Duval, A. M., Lockwood, E., & White, D. (2018). What does active learning mean for mathematicians? In The Best Writing on Mathematics 2018 (pp. 169–178). Princeton University Press.

  12. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Calderón-Tena, C. O., Knight, G. P., & Carlo, G. (2011). The socialization of prosocial behavioral tendencies among Mexican American adolescents: The role of familism values. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17(1), 98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cao, Y., & Porter, L. (2017). Impact of Performance Level and Group Composition on Student Learning during Collaborative Exams. Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, 152–157. https://doi.org/10.1145/3059009.3059024

  15. Canning, E. A., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2015). Teach it, don’t preach it: The differential effects of directlycommunicated and self-generated utility–value information. Motivation science, 1(1), 47.

  16. Cavanagh, A. J., Aragón, O. R., Chen, X., Couch, B. A., Durham, M. F., Bobrownicki, A., Hanauer, D. I., & Graham, M. J. (2016). Student Buy-In to Active Learning in a College Science Course. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 15(4), ar76, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.16-07-0212

  17. Cavanagh, A. J., Chen, X., Bathgate, M., Frederick, J., Hanauer, D. I., & Graham, M. J. (2018). Trust, Growth Mindset, and Student Commitment to Active Learning in a College Science Course. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 17(1), ar10, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.17-06-0107

  18. Charleston, L. J., Adserias, R. P., Lang, N. M., & Jackson, J. F. (2014). Intersectionality and STEM: The role of race and gender in the academic pursuits of African American women in STEM. Journal of Progressive Policy & Practice, 2(3), 273–293.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Christe, B. L. (2013). The importance of faculty-student connections in STEM disciplines. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 14(3).

  20. Cooke, J. E., Weir, L., & Clarkston, B. (2019). Retention following Two-Stage Collaborative Exams Depends on Timing and Student Performance. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 18(2), ar12. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.17-07-0137

  21. Copur-Gencturk, Y., Cimpian, J. R., Lubienski, S. T., & Thacker, I. (2020). Teachers’ bias against the mathematical ability of female, Black, and Hispanic students. Educational Researcher, 49(1), 30–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Cortright, R. N., Collins, H. L., Rodenbaugh, D. W., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2003). Student retention of course content is improved by collaborative-group testing. Advances in Physiology Education, 27(3), 102–108. https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00041.2002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Dasgupta, N., Scircle, M. M., & Hunsinger, M. (2015). Female peers in small work groups enhance women’s motivation, verbal participation, and career aspirations in engineering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(16), 4988–4993.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Duane, B. T., & Satre, M. E. (2014). Utilizing constructivism learning theory in collaborative testing as a creative strategy to promote essential nursing skills. Nurse Education Today, 34(1), 31–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2013.03.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Eaton, T. T. (2009). Engaging Students and Evaluating Learning Progress using Collaborative Exams in Introductory Courses. Journal of Geoscience Education, 57(2), 113–120. https://doi.org/10.5408/1.3544241

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Eaton, A. A., Saunders, J. F., Jacobson, R. K., & West, K. (2020). How gender and race stereotypes impact the advancement of scholars in STEM: Professors’ biased evaluations of physics and biology post-doctoral candidates. Sex Roles, 82(3), 127–141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1), 109–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Ekimova, V., & Kokurin, A. (2015). Students’ Attitudes Towards Different Team Building Methods. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 186, 847–855. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.157

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Ernest, J. B., Reinholz, D. L., & Shah, N. (2019). Hidden competence: Women’s mathematical participation in public and private classroom spaces. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 102(2), 153–172. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-019-09910-w

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Esmonde, I., Brodie, K., Dookie, L., & Takeuchi, M. (2009). Social identities and opportunities to learn: Student perspectives on group work in an urban mathematics classroom. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 2(2), 18–45.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Finelli, C. J., & Borrego, M. (2020). Evidence-based strategies to reduce student resistance to active learning. In Active learning in college science (pp. 943-952). Springer, Cham.

  32. Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 111(23), 8410–8415.

  33. Gaudet, A. D., Ramer, L. M., Nakonechny, J., Cragg, J. J., & Ramer, M. S. (2010). Small-Group Learning in an Upper-Level University Biology Class Enhances Academic Performance and Student Attitudes Toward Group Work. PLoS ONE, 5(12), e15821. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0015821

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Gilley, B., & Clarkston, B. (2014). Research and Teaching: Collaborative Testing: Evidence of Learning in a Controlled In-Class Study of Undergraduate Students. Journal of College Science Teaching, 043(03). https://doi.org/10.2505/4/jcst14_043_03_83

  35. Gottschall, H., & García-Bayonas, M. (2008). Student Attitudes Towards Group Work Among Undergraduates in Business Administration. Educational Research Quarterly, 32, 1.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Grossmann, I., & Varnum, M. E. (2011). Social class, culture, and cognition. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(1), 81–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Gutiérrez, R. (2013). The sociopolitical turn in mathematics education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(1), 37–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Hite, P. A. (1996). An Experimental Study of Effectiveness of Group Exams in an Individual Income Tax Class. Issues in Accounting Education, 11(1), 61–75.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Hulleman, C. S., Godes, O., Hendricks, B. L., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2010). Enhancing interest and performance with a utility value intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 880–895.

  40. Ives, J. (2015). Measuring the Learning from Two-Stage Collaborative Group Exams. Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, 2014, 123–126. https://doi.org/10.1119/perc.2014.pr.027

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Jang, H., Lasry, N., Miller, K., & Mazur, E. (2017). Collaborative exams: Cheating? Or learning? American Journal of Physics, 85(3), 223–227. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4974744

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Jeno, L. M., Raaheim, A., Kristensen, S. M., Kristensen, K. D., Hole, T. N., Haugland, M. J., & Mæland, S. (2017). The Relative Effect of Team-Based Learning on Motivation and Learning: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective. CBE–Life Sciences Education, 16(4), ar59. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.17-03-0055

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Kapitanoff, S. H. (2009). Collaborative testing: Cognitive and interpersonal processes related to enhanced test performance. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(1), 56–70. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787408100195

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Kinnear, G. (2020). Two-Stage Collaborative Exams have Little Impact on Subsequent Exam Performance in Undergraduate Mathematics. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, 1–28.

  45. Lake, D. A. (2001). Student Performance and Perceptions of a Lecture-based Course Compared With the Same Course Utilizing Group Discussion. Physical Therapy, 81(3), 896–902. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/81.3.896

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Laursen, S. L., Hassi, M. L., Kogan, M., & Weston, T. J. (2014). Benefits for women and men of inquiry-based learning in college mathematics: A multi-institution study. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 45(4), 406–418.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Leight, H., Saunders, C., Calkins, R., & Withers, M. (2012). Collaborative Testing Improves Performance but Not Content Retention in a Large-Enrollment Introductory Biology Class. CBE–Life Sciences Education, 11(4), 392–401. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-04-0048

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Leyva, L. A. (2017). Unpacking the male superiority myth and masculinization of mathematics at the intersections: A review of research on gender in mathematics education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 48(4), 397–433.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Leyva, L. A. (2021). Black women’s counter-stories of resilience and within-group tensions in the white, patriarchal space of mathematics education. To Appear in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 52, 2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Leyva, L. A., Quea, R., Weber, K., Battey, D., & López, D. (2021). Detailing racialized and gendered mechanisms of undergraduate precalculus and calculus classroom instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 1–33.

  51. Lin, Y., & Brookes, D. T. (2013). Using collaborative group exams to investigate students’ ability to learn. 254–257. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4789700

  52. Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Martin, D. B. (2011) What does quality mean in the context of white institutional space? In Mapping equity and quality in mathematics education Springer 437 450

  54. Martin, D. B., Rousseau-Anderson, C., & Shah, N. (2017). Race and mathematics education. In J. Cai (Ed.), Compendium for Research in Mathematics Education (pp. 607–636). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

  55. McAfee, M. (2014). The Kinesiology of Race. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 468–491. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.84.4.u3ug18060x847412

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Ong, M., Wright, C., Espinosa, L., & Orfield, G. (2011). Inside the double bind: A synthesis of empirical research on undergraduate and graduate women of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Harvard Educational Review, 81(2), 172–209.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Patton, M. Q. (1987). How to use qualitative methods in evaluation. Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Prince, M. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223–231.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Rasmussen, C., Apkarian, N., Tabach, M., & Dreyfus, T. (2020). Ways in which engaging with someone else’s reasoning is productive. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 58, 100742. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmathb.2019.100742

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Reinholz, D. L., & Shah, N. (2018). Equity Analytics: A Methodological Approach for Quantifying Participation Patterns in Mathematics Classroom Discourse. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 49(2), 140–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Robinson-Cimpian, J. P., Lubienski, S. T., Ganley, C. M., & Copur-Gencturk, Y. (2014). Teachers’ perceptions of students’ mathematics proficiency may exacerbate early gender gaps in achievement. Developmental Psychology, 50(4), 1262.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Russo, A., & Warren, S. H. (1999). Collaborative Test Taking. College Teaching, 47(1), 18–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/87567559909596072

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Salinas, C., Jr. (2020). The complexity of the “x” in Latinx: How Latinx/a/o students relate to, identify with, and understand the term Latinx. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 19(2), 149–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Shekhar, P., Borrego, M., DeMonbrun, M., Finelli, C., Crockett, C., & Nguyen, K. (2020). Negative Student Response to Active Learning in STEM Classrooms: A Systematic Review of Underlying Reasons. Journal of College Science Teaching, 49(6).

  65. Shindler, J. V. (2003). “Greater Than the Sum of the Parts?” Examining the Soundness of Collaborative Exams in Teacher Education Courses. Innovative Higher Education, 28(4), 273–283. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:IHIE.0000018910.08228.39

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Stearns, S. A. (1996). Collaborative Exams as Learning Tools. College Teaching, 44(3), 111–112. https://doi.org/10.1080/87567555.1996.9925564

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Stephens, N. M., Fryberg, S. A., & Markus, H. R. (2012a). It’s your choice: How the middle-class model of independence disadvantages working-class Americans. Facing Social Class: How Societal Rank Influences Interaction, 87–106.

  69. Stephens, N. M., Fryberg, S. A., Markus, H. R., Johnson, C. S., & Covarrubias, R. (2012b). Unseen disadvantage: How American universities’ focus on independence undermines the academic performance of first-generation college students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(6), 1178–1197. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027143

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Stephens, N. M., Markus, H. R., & Townsend, S. S. M. (2007). Choice as an act of meaning: The case of social class. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(5), 814.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Stinson, D. W. (2013). Negotiating the “White male math myth”: African American male students and success in school mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(1), 69–99.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Tharayil, S., Borrego, M., Prince, M., Nguyen, K. A., Shekhar, P., Finelli, C. J., & Waters, C. (2018). Strategies to mitigate student resistance to active learning. International Journal of STEM Education, 5(1), 1–16.

  73. Theobald, E. J., Hill, M. J., Tran, E., Agrawal, S., Arroyo, E. N., Behling, S., Chambwe, N., Cintron, J. D., & Dunster, G. (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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Towns, M. H., Kreke, K., & Fields, A. (2000). An Action Research Project: Student Perspectives on Small-Group Learning in Chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 77(1), 111. https://doi.org/10.1021/ed077p111

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Ullrich, J. S. (2019). For the love of our children: An Indigenous connectedness framework. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 15(2), 121–130. https://doi.org/10.1177/1177180119828114

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Wieman, C. E., Rieger, G. W., & Heiner, C. E. (2014). Physics Exams that Promote Collaborative Learning. The Physics Teacher, 52(1), 51–53. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4849159

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Wilson, J. H., Ryan, R. G., & Pugh, J. L. (2010). Professor-Student Rapport Scale Predicts Student Outcomes. Teaching of Psychology, 37(4), 246–251. https://doi.org/10.1080/00986283.2010.510976

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Yackel, E., Rasmussen, C., & King, K. (2000). Social and sociomathematical norms in an advanced undergraduate mathematics course. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 19(3), 275–287. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0732-3123(00)00051-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Yadav, A., Subedi, D., Lundeberg, M. A., & Bunting, C. F. (2011). Problem-based learning: Influence on students’ learning in an electrical engineering course. Journal of Engineering Education, 100(2), 253–280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Yin, R. K. (1989). Case study research: Design and methods. Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  81. Yuretich, R. F., Khan, S. A., Leckie, R. M., & Clement, J. J. (2001). Active-learning methods to improve student performance and scientific interest in a large introductory oceanography course. Journal of Geoscience Education, 49(2), 111–119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Zumbrunn, S., McKim, C., Buhs, E., & Hawley, L. R. (2014). Support, belonging, motivation, and engagement in the college classroom: A mixed method study. Instructional Science, 42(5), 661–684. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-014-9310-0

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tracy E. Dobie.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dobie, T.E., MacArthur, K. Exploring Shifts in Student Attitudes Toward Group Exams in College Calculus: The Case of Dane. Int. J. Res. Undergrad. Math. Ed. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40753-021-00148-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Beliefs
  • Collaborative testing
  • Group exams
  • Student attitudes
  • Assessment
  • Undergraduate mathematics education
  • Interdependence
  • Sociopolitical context