This is a question I asked on [Academia.se]. It did not get an answer, so I am re-posting it here.

In the country where I live, university students studying mathematics usually attend lectures, consultation with their lecturers (if they have questions relating to the material beingtaught), and tutorial/practice classes.

Years ago there was a change in the way tutorials are run. Now students work in groups of $2$-$4$ in front of white boards, and the tutor walks around checking and commenting on the solutions written by students (on the white boards). (Previously the students would have asked questions, and the tutor would have solved the problems on a white board).

The change was implemented on the basis of some research that suggested greater learning benefits for the students through more active participation and peer-consultation in problem solving. If anyone is familiar with, or can give a reference to, this research article/s, please feel free to provide that here.

I'd be interested to learn how tutorials, or active participation in problem solving with peers in mathematics classics, are carried out in other countries.

The benefit of the above practice class is that the student is `forced' to participate. Or at least one student from each group is, since there are always students who either don't attend or simply stand and contribute very little to the group discussion (even though they are encouraged to take turns and help each other understand, this does not necessarily occur).

It is also hard to tell how much this helps an average student learn mathematics. Have there been any studies on this?

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    $\begingroup$ Academia Stack Exchange version of the question. $\endgroup$
    – JRN
    Sep 29, 2019 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ Remember that no matter how good a teaching method is and how much proof there is about the benefits, many of these fail because of time constraints (i.e. explaining something once to the whole class is faster than doing it 10x to small groups, even though smaller groups would yield better participation). $\endgroup$
    – Dirk
    Oct 2, 2019 at 8:57
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    $\begingroup$ Please don't base your teaching practices on research studies! Studies are meant to talk about the average teacher and the average student, which you and your students are probably not! $\endgroup$
    – David
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


Many studies about active learning are summarized and linked to at this link. I do agree with the commenters Dirk and David, who mention that there are pros and cons to any teaching method, and that studies are usually based around averages, so they might not be applicable to every situation.


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