Student Hormonal Responses in Two Learning Environments
MetadataShow full metadata
Novel classroom spaces are replacing traditional lecture halls as a common initiative to create environments that are more student centered. It is important to investigate how these spaces affect student outcomes. We measured the amount of cortisol, a salivary stress biomarker, in students who participated in an introductory biology course taught in either a traditional lecture hall or a SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs) classroom. We hypothesized that students taking the course held in the SCALE-UP classroom would have lower cortisol levels and higher academic performance than students taking the course in the traditional lecture hall. We used a matched sample design to compare cortisol levels and self-reported stress over the course of seven weeks. We also compared average exam scores and student attendance between the course sections. In this preliminary study, we found that there was no significant difference between self-reported stress or mean exam scores between sections. Thus, the classroom learning environments themselves have not significantly impacted self-perceptions of stress nor academic performance so far. This is an ongoing study, and we are running a two-factor ANOVA to compare cortisol levels across section and time, and calculating two Pearson’s correlations to determine if there was a relationship between cortisol level with self-reported stress and with academic performance. Upon completion of cortisol analysis, we will better understand the underlying physiological responses of students within different learning environments.