Plenary Sessions

The Positive Effects of Evidence-based Teaching on At-Risk Students (and Everybody Else)

Scott Freeman, University of Washington

Monday, July 18 | 4:30pm-5:30pm | Gordon: Symphony Meeting Room

As an introductory biology course was transformed from a lecture-intensive to a lecture-free design, our research group documented dramatic declines in failure rates, increased overall student performance, and an almost-50% reduction in the achievement gap experienced by students from disadvantaged backgrounds. To move from acting locally to thinking globally, we recently published a meta-analysis of 225 papers that compared student performance under active learning versus lecturing in undergraduate courses across the STEM disciplines. The results indicate that on average, students are 1.5 times more likely to fail when being lectured to compared to taking the same course with an active learning component, and that active learning increases exam scores by almost half a standard deviation. That paper is inspiring discussions among faculty internationally; the abstract has been downloaded over 125,000 times. At least part of this conversation needs to focus on the ethics of traditional approaches to instruction in the STEM disciplines, as evidence mounts that active learning benefits all students but has a disproportionately large impact on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Refreshments will be available.

Broadening Access to STEM Through the Power of Daily Interactions

Becky Packard, Mt Holyoke

Wednesday, July 20 | 4:30pm-5:30pm | Gordon: Symphony Meeting Room

While we are all familiar with the importance of mentoring programs as a tool to broaden access to STEM, we may overlook the potential power within our daily interactions with students. Whether in class, office hours, or the research lab, we can have a major impact on students through the comments we make, our actions, and how we organize our activities. Research demonstrates the power of these critical moments. I offer practical recommendations to be more intentional about the time and energy you are already investing, and in doing so, improve the power of your impact on students.

Refreshments will be available.