Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



The Nebraska Educator, Volume 6, Issue 2 (june 2022), pp. 72-99.



Copyright © 2022 University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Active learning is an important component in many college mathematics classes. However, not all college mathematics classes are being taught using active learning-oriented methods. This phenomenological study examined how four undergraduate students’ reflections on their recent experiences in a lecture-based Calculus I course compared to their reflections on their previous experiences in an active learning-oriented Trigonometry course. According to participants’ reflections, certain prescribed classroom structures, such as large classroom sizes, seemed to negatively affect student interactions with both instructors and peers in Calculus I lecture, especially their ability to ask questions. Whereas feeling comfortable to ask questions in either Trigonometry or Calculus I recitation was not always a given for all participants, all participants remarked that the collaborative, group work environment, usually in addition to their instructors, in both Trigonometry and Calculus I recitation were helpful, approachable, or beneficial. Given these students’ reflections, we emphasize the importance of establishing classrooms in which students are not only provided with opportunities to contribute their perspectives but feel that their perspectives are a welcome and important part of the classroom.