Designing Rich, Evidence-Based Learning Experiences in STEM Higher Education

  • Christopher N. AllanEmail author
  • Julie Crough
  • David Green
  • Gayle Brent


Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) higher education offers unique challenges and opportunities to develop effective blended learning practice. Scholarly research by STEM practitioners in designing evidence-based blended learning designs and practice is essential in its educative capacity of supporting STEM academics to reflect upon and develop their learning and teaching practices. The Griffith Sciences Blended Learning Model provided a “grass-roots” approach to developing evidence-based practice within STEM. Educational design-based research along with interviews of key innovators has provided Griffith Sciences with valuable lessons and insights which have enabled the group to progress and expand its blended learning design practices now and into the future. Informed by the range of learner-centred designs and practices explored in previous chapters, this final chapter provides nine evidence-based principles and guidelines for developing blended learning designs in STEM higher education. Although these principles have been derived from one implementation of blended learning technology and in one university for STEM higher education courses, it is tentatively proposed that these principles can support other university implementations particularly in developing ePortfolios or personal learning environments.


Design-based research Design principles STEM Technology implementation Blended learning 



The Griffith Sciences Blended Learning team would like to acknowledge all of the exceptional learning and teaching staff who participated in the Griffith Sciences Blended Learning Model in 2017 and 2018 including all of the authors in this book. Their dedication and hard work have resulted in some excellent learning and teaching practices embedded across STEM disciplines.


  1. Allan, C. N., Campbell, C., & Green, D. M. (2018). Nurturing the budding ideas of STEM academics in a university-wide implementation of PebblePad. In Proceedings of International Conference on Information, Communication Technologies in Education (pp. 39–48). Crete, Greece.Google Scholar
  2. Allan, C. N. & Green, D. M. (2018). Griffith Sciences Blended Learning Model. Retrieved November 8, 2018, from
  3. Beatty, B. (2006). Designing the HyFlex world. Paper presented at the 2006 Association for Educational Communication and Technology International Convention, Dallas, TX, USA.Google Scholar
  4. Borrego, M., & Henderson, C. (2014). Increasing the use of evidence-based teaching in STEM Higher Education: A comparison of eight change strategies. Journal of Engineering Education, 103(2), 220–252. Scholar
  5. Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, M., & Edelson, D. (2003). Teaching as design: Can we better understand the ways in which teachers use materials so we can better design materials to support their changes in practice? (Design Brief). Evanston, IL: Center for Learning Technologies in Urban Schools.Google Scholar
  7. Brownell, S. E., & Tanner, K. D. (2012). Barriers to faculty pedagogical change: Lack of training, time, incentives, and tensions with professional identity? CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11(4), 339–346. Scholar
  8. Cobb, P. (2000). Conducting teaching experiments in collaboration with teachers. In A. E. Kelly & R. A. Lesh (Eds.), Handbook of research design in mathematics and science education (pp. 307–333). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Dancy, M., & Henderson, C. (2010). Pedagogical practices and instructional change of physics faculty. American Journal of Physics, 78(10), 1056–1063. Scholar
  10. DiSessa, A. A., & Cobb, P. (2004). Ontological innovation and the role of theory in design experiments. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 77–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Downing, J. J. (2015). Applied learning design in an online teacher-education course. PhD Thesis.Google Scholar
  12. Eynon, B. & Gambino, L. M. (2017). High-impact ePorfolio practice: A catalyst for student, faculty, and institutional learning. Virginia, US: Stylus Publishing.Google Scholar
  13. Foote, K., Knaub, A., Henderson, C., Dancy, M., & Beichner, R. J. (2016). Enabling and challenging factors in institutional reform: The case of SCALE-UP. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12.
  14. Felder, R. M., & Brent, R. (2016). Teaching and learning STEM: A practical guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  15. Froyd, J. E., Henderson, C., Cole, R. S., Friedrichsen, D., Khatri, R., & Stanford, C. (2017). From dissemination to propagation: A new paradigm for education developers. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 49(4), 35–42. Scholar
  16. Guardia, Maina, & Sangra. (2013). MOOC design principles: A pedagogical approach from the learner’s perspective. eLearning Papers, 33, 1–6.Google Scholar
  17. Hains-Wesson, R., & Tytler, R. (2015). A perspective on supporting STEM academics with blended learning at an Australian university. Issues in Educational Research, 25(4), 460–479.Google Scholar
  18. Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112. Scholar
  19. Henderson, C., Beach, A., & Finkelstein, N. (2011). Facilitating change in undergraduate STEM instructional practices: An analytic review of the literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(8), 952–984. Scholar
  20. Herrington, J. (2006). Authentic e-learning in higher education: Design principles for authentic learning environments and tasks. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, Vancouver, Canada,Google Scholar
  21. Herrington, J., Herrington, A., & Mantei, J. (2009). Design principles for mobile learning. In J. Herrington, A. Herrington, J. Mantei, I. Olney, & B. Ferry (Eds.), New technologies, new pedagogies: Mobile learning in higher education (pp. 129–138). Wollongong, Australia: University of Wollongong.Google Scholar
  22. Herrington, J., Mantei, J., Herrington, A., Olney, I., & Ferry, B. (2008). New technologies, new pedagogies: Mobile technologies and new ways of teaching and learning. In Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology? Proceedings ASCILITE Melbourne 2008.
  23. Joseph, D. (2004). The practice of design-based research: Uncovering the interplay between design, research, and the real-world context. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 235–242. Scholar
  24. Khatri, R., Henderson, C., Cole, R., Froyd, J. E., Friedrichsen, D., & Stanford, C. (2016). Designing for sustained adoption: A model of developing educational innovations for successful propagation. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(1), 10112. Scholar
  25. Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kober, N. (2015). Reaching students: What research says about effective instruction in undergraduate science and engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  27. Landrum, R. E., Viskupic, K., Shadle, S. E., & Bullock, D. (2017). Assessing the STEM landscape: The current instructional climate survey and the evidence-based instructional practices adoption scale. International Journal of STEM Education, 4(25), 1–10. Scholar
  28. Legon, R. (2015). Measuring the impact of the Quality Matters RubricTM: A discussion of possibilities. American Journal of Distance Education, 29(3), 166–173. Scholar
  29. McGee, P., & Reis, A. (2012). Blended course design: A synthesis of best practices. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(4), 7–22.Google Scholar
  30. National Academies of Sciences. (2018). How people learn II: Learners, contexts and cultures. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  31. Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Overton, T., & Johnson, L. (2016). Evidence based practice in learning and teaching for STEM disciplines. Melbourne: Australian Council of Deans of Science.Google Scholar
  33. Phillips, R., McNaught, C., & Kennedy, G. (2012). Evaluating E-learning: Guiding research and practice. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Reeves, T. C. (2000). Enhancing the worth of instructional technology research through “design experiments” and other development research strategies. International Perspectives on Instructional Technology Research for the 21st Century, 27, 1–15.Google Scholar
  35. Reeves, T. C. (2006). Design research from a technology perspective. Educational Design Research, 1(3), 52–66.Google Scholar
  36. Rich, J. (2016). Employability: Degrees of value. I worked hard to get where I am today (An unemployed graduate with £50,000 of debt). HEPI Occasional Paper 12.Google Scholar
  37. Roberts, P. (2018). Developing reflection through an ePortfolio-based learning environment: Design principles for further implementation. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 27(3), 313–326. Scholar
  38. Roberts, P., Maor, D., & Herrington, J. (2016). ePortfolio-based learning environments: Recommendations for effective scaffolding of reflective thinking in Higher Education. Educational Technology & Society, 19(4), 22–33.Google Scholar
  39. Rodgers, C. (2002). Seeing student learning: Teacher change and the role of reflection. Harvard Educational Review, 72(2), 230–253. Scholar
  40. Shavelson, R. J., Phillips, D. C., Towne, L., & Feuer, M. J. (2003). On the science of education design studies. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 25–28. Scholar
  41. Smith, K., & Hill, J. (2018). Defining the nature of blended learning through its depiction in current research. Higher Education Research & Development. Scholar
  42. Sutherland, S., Brotchie, J., & Chesney, S. (2011). Pebblegogy: Ideas and activities to inspire and engage learners. Pebble Learning Limited, e-Innovative Centre: University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.Google Scholar
  43. Sweller, J. (2010). Element interactivity and intrinsic, extraneous, and germane cognitive load. Educational Psychology Review, 22, 123–138. Scholar
  44. Taylor, J. A., & Newton, D. (2013). Beyond blended learning: A case study of institutional change at an Australian regional university. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 54–60. Scholar
  45. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Massachusetts, United States: Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
  47. Wieman, C. (2017). Improving how universities teach science: Lessons from the Science Education Initiative. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wingate, U. (2006). Doing away with ‘study skills’. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(4), 457–469. Scholar
  49. Yorke, M., & Knight, P. T. (2006). Embedding employability into the curriculum. Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher N. Allan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julie Crough
    • 2
  • David Green
    • 2
  • Gayle Brent
    • 2
  1. 1.Office of the PVC (Griffith Sciences)Griffith UniversitySouthportAustralia
  2. 2.Office of the PVC (Griffith Sciences)Griffith UniversityGriffithAustralia

Personalised recommendations