The Positive Effects of Evidence-based Teaching on At-Risk Students (and Everybody Else)
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.
Plenary Presentation Slides (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 9.8MB Jul18 16)
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