Students in the study began the academic year with almost no experience in active learning classrooms, so they were primarily making their class choices based on time and location. However, we found that the students who were also listening to input from their friends were more likely to enroll in the active learning space. This was no surprise, but things changed after students spent a semester learning from their instructor in the spaces.
Once students had experience with the course and the classrooms, there was a big shift in their choices. The students who chose the active learning classroom were not relying on their peers any more than anyone else, but their attitudes toward learning were now more expert-like than the students in the lecture space. We saw the same results across multiple parts of their thinking, including discipline-specific topics, their general pursuit of conceptual connections between topics, and their personal interest in the course material outside of class. In every case, the students who chose the active learning spaces thought about their subject more like experts in the field.