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Since its inception in the Middle Ages, the university classroom can be characterized by students gathered around a sage who imparts his or her knowledge. However, the effective classroom of today looks vastly different: First-year engineering students not only learn basic engineering principles, but are also guided to consider their own inner values and motivations as they design and build adaptive devices for people with disabilities; students in a large chemistry lecture work animatedly together in small groups on inquiry-based activities while an instructor and teaching assistants circulate and guide their learning; students learning differential equations practice explicit metacognitive skills while problem-solving in class. Even though educational research, especially research that is targeted at STEM disciplines, demonstrates what most effectively engages students and supports their learning, many of today's classrooms look much like they did a century ago, with a professor delivering a primarily one-way lecture and students passively sitting in seats bolted to the floor. At this juncture in history, colleges and universities face a public call to engage a more diverse representation of students in effective learning, persistence, and degree attainment, and to do so economically and efficiently. It is essential that institutions draw upon methods demonstrated to effectively increase student learning and success. Educational researchers have thoroughly explored the "basic" science in this area, and a body of literature documents effective evidence-based instructional practices, hereafter referred to as EBIPs.

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This document was originally published in Transforming Institutions: Undergraduate STEM Education for the 21st Century by Perdue University Press. Copyright restrictions may apply.