A Multi-disciplinary Mixed-Methods Study of Group Dynamics in Active Learning Space

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Xiaoshan Zhu Gordy
Elizabeth O. Carr
Lei Zhang
Jessica H. Bailey


Active learning space emerged at the turn of the twenty-first century. The active learning space design represents not only an overhaul of traditional classrooms’ physical appearances but also reflects a paradigm shift from teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning. Current available research mainly focused on student academic performance as well as student and faculty perceptions.  No research has been conducted to investigate interactions at the student level to find out what interactions are taking place in the active learning space and how they affect student learning. This study employed a sequential exploratory mixed-methods design inquiring into student learning in an active learning space first through student focus group discussions and then with an online student survey. The major themes emerged from the focus group discussions were utilized to develop the online survey. The purpose of this survey was to cross-validate qualitative outcomes and further seek answers to unanswered questions triggered by qualitative findings. The qualitative data indicated that the spatial equity in the active learning space put students in positive mindsets and induced active classroom participation. The interconnected screens made it easy for students to view class content and collaborate with peers. The group work conducted in the space fostered mutual learning, promoted learning accountability and improved peer relations. The quantitative survey data on group dynamics validated and reinforced qualitative findings. This paper will help educators better understand student behaviors in the active learning space and better design space-appropriate pedagogical strategies.


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How to Cite
Gordy, X. Z., Carr, E. O., Zhang, L., & Bailey, J. H. (2020). A Multi-disciplinary Mixed-Methods Study of Group Dynamics in Active Learning Space. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 20(3). https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v20i3.27923
Author Biography

Xiaoshan Zhu Gordy, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Ph.D student at School of Graduate Studies in Health Sciences, 

University of Mississippi Medical Center.