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Learning Research & Development Center wordmarkThe Teaching Center has partnered with Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center to conduct research and quality improvement studies on innovative teaching practices in higher education. LRDC senior scientists, postdoctoral researchers, and Teaching Center staff have collaborated on a number of projects focusing on educational technology, online learning, active learning, and high enrollment classes. One of LRDC’s focal research areas is College and Pre-College Teaching and Learning.

Participants in these studies have included Pitt undergraduates in large enrollment introductory classes, Pitt instructors experimenting with new technologies, and mid-career learners enrolled in Pitt’s massive open online courses hosted on the Coursera platform.

Students in a classroom.A particular area of focus has been the Course Incubator, a Pitt initiative to promote innovation among faculty who teach large enrollment classes. The program launched in 2018 with projects in three departments – Biology, Chemistry, and Economics. The goal of the projects is to increase student engagement by incorporating active learning strategies and improve learning gains.

Among other findings, we’ve learned that students from General Chemistry 1 classes that employed the POGIL method of group learning did better in General Chemistry 2 than students who were enrolled in the more traditional lecture sections of Gen Chem 1. In our introductory Microeconomics course, we compared final grades from four consecutive fall semesters. In the three semesters preceding the course transformation, a significant performance gap existed between under-represented minority (URM) students and their non-URM peers. For the semester in which active learning methods were introduced into course recitation sections, under-represented minority students performed nearly as well as their non-URM peers.

For more information about these and other studies, please take a look at the bibliography below of work that has emerged from our collaboration with LRDC.



Baikadi, A., Demmans Epps, C., & Schunn, C. D. (2018). Participating by activity or by week in MOOCs. Information and Learning Science. 119(9/10), 572-585.

Baikadi, A., Schunn, C. D., Long, Y., & Demmans Epp, C. (2016). Redefining “what” in analyses of who does what in MOOCs. In Barnes, T., Chi, M., & Feng, M. (Eds.). Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Educational Data Mining, 569-570. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 592609).

Demmans Epp, C., Mancilla, R., & Swigart, V. (2018). Language MOOCs: Assessing student knowledge and comprehension of clinical terminology. In Link, S. & Li, J. (Eds.). Assessment across online language education, (pp. 71-90). Sheffield, United Kingdom: Equinox Publishing.


Kearns, L. R. (2019, March). The Course Incubator: Academic transformation in large enrollment courses. Poster presentation at the 2019 Pittsburgh Regional Faculty Symposium, Pittsburgh, PA.

Kearns, L. R. (2019, October). The Course Incubator: Academic transformation in large enrollment courses. Poster presentation at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2019, Chicago, IL.

Miller-Cotto, D., & Schunn, C.D. (2018, June). Examining flipping in a calculus class: Does it work, and for whom? Poster presented to the International Workshop on Advanced Learning Sciences 2018, Pittsburgh, PA.

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