Active learning narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented students in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math
Elli J. Theobald; Mariah J. Hill; Elisa Tran; Sweta Agrawal; E. Nicole Arroyo; Shawn Behling; Nyasha Chambwe; Dianne Laboy Cintrón; Jacob D. Cooper; Gideon Dunster; Jared A. Grummer; Kelly Hennessey; Jennifer Hsiao; Nicole Iranon; Leonard Jones II; Hannah Jordt; Marlowe Keller; Melissa E. Lacey; Caitlin E. Littlefield; Alexander Lowe; Shannon Newman; Vera Okolo; Savannah Olroyd; Brandon R. Peecook; Sarah B. Pickett; David L. Slager; Itzue W. Caviedes-Solis; Kathryn E. Stanchak; Vasudha Sundaravardan; Camila Valdebenito; Claire R. Williams; Kaitlin Zinsli; and Scott Freeman
This study is a comprehensive meta-analysis of research on the influence of active and traditional learning approaches on STEM course outcomes (exam scores and course failure rates) for underrepresented students. Time-intensive active learning experiences contributed to reduced achievement gaps in exam scores and pass rates. Researchers concluded that deliberate active-learning course designs and inclusive teaching contribute to increasing equity in STEM. Although this study does not discuss cost-benefits, it affirms the value of investing in pedagogical enhancements to increase student retention and success. In this case, the benefits are continuous tuition revenue through student retention and the moral imperative of reducing equity gaps.
Theobald, E. J., Hill, M. J., Tran, E., Agrawal, S., Arroyo, E. N., Behling, S., Chambwe, N., Cintron, D. L., Cooper, J. D., Dunster, G., Grummer, J. A., Hennessey, K., Hsiao, J., Iranon, N., Jones II, L., Jordt, H., Keller, M., Lacey, M. E., Littlefield, C. E., Lowe, A., Newman, S., Okolo, V., Olroyd, S., Peecook, B. R., Pickett, S. B., Slager, D. L., Caviedes-Solis, I. W., Stanchak, K. E., Sundaravardan, V., Valdebenito, C., Williams, C. R., Zinsli, K., & Freeman, S. (2020). Active learning narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented students in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(12), 6476-6483.