In talking with developers and expert adopters about how to implement research-based teaching methods, we have found that their suggestions fall into two categories, which we call minimal and ideal implementation. Because there is insufficient research disentangling the effects of implementing some features of a teaching method but not others, we cannot be certain which features are actually necessary for successful implementation. Anecdotally, however, developers and expert adopters tend to agree on which features are minimally necessary and which features are should ideally be present. Minimal implementation includes the features that appear to be necessary for the method to succeed, without which you are not really implementing it. Ideal implementation includes features that may not be present in any real implementation, but which developers and expert adopters believe should be present in the ideal case. Our tentative conclusion is that an understanding of the ideal features may be necessary for effective implementation, even if they are not actually put into practice.
1) Special room that facilitates intra-group and inter-group collaboration
2) Students work in small groups and interact with other groups
3) Students acquire knowledge outside of class, and practice applying that knowledge in class
4) Instructor monitors understanding during class (and adjusts pacing accordingly)
5) Students solve real-world problems with an emphasis on conceptual understanding
6) Faculty, teaching assistants, and other instructors are supported in implementing principles 1-5 effectively
7) Principles 1-6 are institutionalized and implemented sustainably throughout a department or institution