Meta-analysis of 225 papers that compared student performance under active learning versus lecturing in undergraduate courses across the STEM disciplines will be presented. The results indicate that on average students are 1.5 times more likely to fail when being lectured to as compared to when the same course has an active learning component, and active learning increases exam scores by almost half a standard deviation. Research results that increase student achievement will be summarized, including discussion of how even small changes can close the gap between teaching and student learning; this has tremendous implications for all students, especially those from underserved groups. PORTAAL, a new classroom observation tool that identifies key elements of an active learning classroom associated with enhanced student learning, will be presented.
Says Toby Bradshaw, Chair of Biology at University of Washington, “By reducing the failure rates, capable students are able to go on, rather than being washed out of the system because they came in a bit underprepared and no one was willing to change the way they did things to help them out….The impact down the road is that we will have a larger, more diverse, more capable work force.”