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Advances in Higher Education Research Seminar with Elli Theobald
Advances in Higher Education Research Seminar with Elli Theobald
WhenTuesday, Oct 8, 2019, 2:30 – 3:20 p.m.
Campus locationOdegaard Undergraduate Library (OUG)
Campus room220
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsThe Center for Teaching and Learning

Mind the gap: Active learning in undergraduate STEM classes narrows achievement gaps for historically underrepresented students

With Elli Theobald, research scientist, Department of Biology, University of Washington

Women and minority students remain underrepresented in STEM majors and STEM professions, despite widespread efforts to increase their access to STEM fields. This is in part because of differential performance between historically under- and well-represented students—the “achievement gap”—in college STEM courses. Lower-performing students are less likely to major in STEM and more likely to drop out of college altogether. How can we modify instructional practice in our courses to remedy this problem?

A recent meta-analysis (Freeman et al., 2014) showed that active learning improves performance among all students relative to lecture-only classes. Building on this work, Dr. Theobald conducted the first large-scale study to show that active learning also narrows achievement gaps across STEM fields, and the first to show what amount of active learning is required to improve student performance. By pooling data from 133 studies of higher-education STEM courses that incorporate active-learning strategies, Theobald found that such courses reduced achievement gaps by up to 75%. In addition, active learning must comprise at least 30% of available class time to realize student gains.…
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