Interactive Teaching in College Science Classes Can Close the Racial Achievement Gap

unc-chapel-hillA new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington finds that “active learning” techniques in science courses in college classrooms help all students, but have particular benefits for African American students.

The study compares academic results for students who participated in traditional classroom setting where they listen to a lecture to students in courses where they were required to participate in classroom discussions and other in-class activities. The results showed that when traditional lecture courses were restructured to a more interactive format, the achievement gap between African American and White students decreased by one half.

Co-author Kelly Hogan, a biologist and director of instructional innovation for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina, stated that when the lecture format was abandoned, “students consistently reported completing the assigned readings more frequently and spent more time studying for class, and there was an increased sense of community.”

The research “Getting Under the Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work?” appears in the September 2 issue of the journal CBE-Life Sciences Education. It is available here.

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