Lab Lectures

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Integrating Active Learning into Lectures to Maximize Learning Gains

What do research findings from cognitive, education, and neural sciences imply about the role of active learning in undergraduate science education? How can instructors move from lecture-only teaching modes towards purposefully integrating active learning opportunities for students? On May 17, 2016, Dr. Kimberly Tanner, trained as a neuroscientist and biology education researcher, delivered an interactive session on how to integrate active learning into existing lecture sessions. This workshop was co-sponsored by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), the Vice Provost of Graduate Education (VPGE), and the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL).

Important handouts are attached below:

Survey Incentive Research

As we prepare to launch the Engineering Majors Survey Year 2, we discussed the need to offer a "completion incentive" to help boost participation rates. We wanted the selection of this offer to be guided by data so we developed a survey instrument to measure the relative appeal of a range of incentive offers.

We tested six compensation offers among 85 respondents who were third year, fourth year or graduate engineering students. Three offers were significantly preferred over the other offers - $5 Amazon gift card to all respondents, $50 Amazon gift card to 100 respondents (out of an estimated 1,000 total respondents) and a $500 travel award to 10 respondents (out of an estimated 1,000 total respondents) - and equally preferred amongst themselves. The $50 Amazon gift card offer was selected as the compensation award because it was the easiest of the three options to execute.

Structural Equation Modeling - A Beginner's Guide

Mark Schar discussed the statistical technique called Structural Equation Modeling which is a way to quantify both latent and extant connections in a statistical model. As an example, he used the recent ASEE paper on classroom closeness. This was done using R and the relevant code is shown in the presentation. There is also a brief discussion of a recent talk by Ben Shneiderman on The New ABCs of Research: Achieving Breakthrough Collaborations.

Mean Deviated Scoring

Mark Schar discussed the statistical technique called Mean Deviated Scoring which is a way to convert Likert-style data into a format that measures both valence and salience. As an example, he used career intent data from a recent survey with 571 respondents. This was done using R and the relevant code is shown in the presentation. There is also a brief discussion of Holland Career Codes and a quick ethnographic exercise.

Pivot Thinking

Mark Schar discussed his paper on "pivot thinking" which has been accepted by the Frontiers in Education Conference to be held on October 21-24, 2015 in El Paso, TX. This research, done in collaboration with Dr. Brian Knutson's SPANlab, defines the concept of "pivot thinking" as a shift in domain specific problem solving heuristics. Preference for problem solving heuristics in certain domains was measured using the Herrmann Brain Dominance Indicator (HBDI) and entrepreneurial career intent was measured among undergraduate, graduate and faculty in engineering. Results show that a higher but balanced preference for analytical and intuitive problem solving does predict interest in entrepreneurship.


Lauren Aguilar and Chris Clarke stopped by the DEL on November 17, 2014 to talk about their work with VPUE on "belonging." Fostering a sense of "belonging" by students in physics classes improves both performance and retention. Lauren's excellent paper: Psychological insights for improved physics teaching

Florian Lintl Introduction

Florian Lintl led a discussion on his work at DEL and what he hopes to accomplish during his time at Stanford. We were also treated to "homemade" obatzda, a Bavarian cheese delight.

Linear Regression Modeling and the YES Data Set

Qu Jin led a discussion of the statistical tool called Linear Regression using data from the YES survey to illustrate the power of this technique.


Peggy Boylan-Ashraf presented her research as "Introductory Fundamental Engineering Mechanics" or IFEM classes. Her work illustrates the positive effect curricula changes can have on the academic career of engineering students. Qu Jin led a discussion of the statistical tool called ANOVA or Analysis of Variance using data from the YES survey to illustrate the power of this technique.

Research versus Evaluation

Helen Chen, our senior researcher in the Designing Education Lab presented on the topic of the simularities and differences between research activity and evaluation activity - research produces generalizable knowledge while evaluation judges merit or worth. Evaluation is an improtant activity within any NSF-funded research. Helen also referenced the NSF produced handbook on evalaution as a good source for information.

Prototyping and the University Community

Julian Weinmann presented his Masterthesis work on prototyping within a univeristy community. Julian is a visiting scholar from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) who is investigating how the Stanford community uses prototyping and the implications of a new sponsored prototyping facility on the TUM campus. As reference, we suggested that Julian review Micah Lande's (DEL alumni) PhD dissertation on the role of prototyping in the development of "designerly thinking."

Launching a MOOC

Kathryn Jablokow, visiting scholar and professor at Penn State University, discussed her recent experience with a massive, on-line open course (MOOC) on creativity and innovation. With 150,000 registered students, it was a learning experince on a grand scale!

Theory-Based Research and Finding a Faculty Job

Samantha Brunhaver, a doctoral candidate in DEL, provided an overview of theory-based research and a helpful comparison between the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) model and Expectancy X Value Theory as guides for how to use theories and models in reasearch. As a special bonus, Sam shared thoughts and perspective on her journey toward a faculty position.

Learning Models

Jan Behrenbeck and Mark Schar presented perspcetives on learning models. Jan provided an overview of this Bachelorthesis work including a neurological perspective on learning as well as early comparisons of the TUM and Stanford learning models. Mark spoke about classic learning models and focused on two that are part of the lab's recent NSF proposal - Kolb's Learning Style Inventory and Baron-Cohen's E-S Theory.

  • Jan's Presentation
  • Mark's Presentation

Alumni Survey Techniques

Daniel Weiss, a visiting scholar in DEL, discussed entreprenurship research conducted by Stanford Univeristy professor Chuck Eesley that used a sample of Stanford University alumni.

  • Daniel's Presentation
  • Eesley CE, Miller WF. Impact: Stanford University’s Economic Impact via Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; 2012 October.

Effect Size and P-Value

Qu Jin, a Postdoctoral scholar in DEL, provided helpful perspective on the use of Effect Size and P-Values in social science research.

Interdisciplinary Engineering Education:  O-CDIO

 Ville Taajamaa presented his PhD thesis research about re-designing the engineering education model in comprehensive science universities. The model focuses in the early phases of the engineering cycle in addition to the actual systemic engineering process. Hence the O in  O–CDIO standing for Observe.

Conference Poster Preparation

Here is a list of helpful sites full of useful tips for the design and production of a conference poster.

Editing This Wiki

Welcome to the Designing Education Lab wiki.  This is the place where we keep profiles on lab members, memorable lab lectures, notable lab events and the weekly schedule of lab meetings by quarter.

We purposely built this on a wiki so you can have a hand in creating and updating content.  Here is how you can do that:

  1. Obtain a valid SUID. This wiki is open to the public but only those with a valid SUID can edit the content.
  2. Click on the WebAuth link in the upper right hand corner and sign into Stanford's WebAuth system. You may already be signed into Stanford's WebAuth system if it says "Log out" in the upper right hand corner. You will also know if you are signed into the WebAuth systems if a series of [EDIT] links show up around content.
  3. Start by updating your personal page. This has likely been set up for you by the DEL wiki administrator.  Go the sidebar on the left side of the webpage, find your name and click on the link - this is your page.
  4. Start by clicking on the [EDIT] links next to the sections you want to update.  There are two levels of editing tools. This first level is called the "rich editor' and it looks like a Google Docs interface.
  5. You can cut, paste and type information into this editor, then click "Save Page" at the bottom of the window.
  6. The second level of editing is called "Wikitext" which is a tab in the "rich editor' interface. Clicking on this brings up the WikiMedia HTML code for each page. It will take a little learning on your part to learn the code, but in the long run it's easier to edit in "Wikitext" than the "rich editor." When you are finished editing, click "Save Page" at the bottom of the window.
  7. To insert a picture, on the left sidebar go to "Toolbox/Upload File" and click on it.  You will be taken to a page that allows you to upload files. Select the file you want to upload (.jpg, .png, .pdf, etc.) and click "Upload." Note the exact filename and extension used to upload your file. Return to your personal page and go to the "Wikitext" editor for the entire page (very top tab), find the statement "Image:..." and edit it to remove the previous file and insert your new filename. You can also control the size of the picture with the "...|300px| ..." command.

If it doesn't look correct, go to another part of the wiki that has the look you want and EDIT/Wikitext explore the code. But be careful! If you change other code, it changes that page. You can learn more about the WikiMedia Mark-Up HTML language at this link.

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