Tag Archives: Active learning in large science classes benefits black and first-generation college students most

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill study: Active learning helps Black and first generation college students

6 Sep

Moi wrote in Remedial education in college:
Whether or not students choose college or vocational training at the end of their high school career, our goal as a society should be that children should be “college ready.” David T. Conley writes in the ASCD article, What Makes a Student College Ready?

The Big Four
A comprehensive college preparation program must address four distinct dimensions of college readiness: cognitive strategies, content knowledge, self-management skills, and knowledge about postsecondary education.
Key Cognitive Strategies
Colleges expect their students to think about what they learn. Students entering college are more likely to succeed if they can formulate, investigate, and propose solutions to nonroutine problems; understand and analyze conflicting explanations of phenomena or events; evaluate the credibility and utility of source material and then integrate sources into a paper or project appropriately; think analytically and logically, comparing and contrasting differing philosophies, methods, and positions to understand an issue or concept; and exercise precision and accuracy as they apply their methods and develop their products.
Key Content Knowledge
Several independently conducted research and development efforts help us identify the key knowledge and skills students should master to take full advantage of college. Standards for Success (Conley, 2003) systematically polled university faculty members and analyzed their course documents to determine what these teachers expected of students in entry-level courses. The American Diploma Project (2004) consulted representatives of the business community and postsecondary faculty to define standards in math and English. More recently, both ACT (2008) and the College Board (2006) have released college readiness standards in English and math. Finally, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (2008), under mandate of state law, developed one of the first and most comprehensive sets of state-level college readiness standards….
Key Self-Management Skills
In college, students must keep track of massive amounts of information and organize themselves to meet competing deadlines and priorities. They must plan their time carefully to complete these tasks. They must be able to study independently and in informal and formal study groups. They must know when to seek help from academic support services and when to cut their losses and drop a course. These tasks require self-management, a skill that individuals must develop over time, with considerable practice and trial-and-error.
Key Knowledge About Postsecondary Education
Choosing a college, applying, securing financial aid, and then adjusting to college life require a tremendous amount of specialized knowledge. This knowledge includes matching personal interests with college majors and programs; understanding federal and individual college financial aid programs and how and when to complete appropriate forms; registering for, preparing for, and taking required admissions exams; applying to college on time and submitting all necessary information; and, perhaps most important, understanding how the culture of college is different from that of high school….
Students who would be the first in their family to attend college, students from immigrant families, students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups traditionally underrepresented in college, and students from low-income families are much more easily thrown off the path to college if they have deficiencies in any of the four dimensions.http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct08/vol66/num02/What-Makes-a-Student-College-Ready%C2%A2.aspx

The difficult question is whether current testing accurately measures whether students are prepared for college. https://drwilda.com/2012/03/04/remedial-education-in-college/ Once kids are in college, there should be a recognition of different learning styles.

Richard Perez-Pena wrote in the New York Times article, Active Role in Class Helps Black and First-Generation College Students, Study Says:

The trend away from classes based on reading and listening passively to lectures, and toward a more active role for students, has its most profound effects on black students and those whose parents did not go to college, a new study of college students shows.
Active learning raised average test scores more than 3 percentage points, and significantly reduced the number of students who failed the exams, the study found. The score increase was doubled, to more than 6 percentage points, for black students and first-generation college students.
For black students, that gain cut in half their score gap with white students. It eliminated the gap between first-generation students and other students.
The study does not explain the disparate benefits, and “a lot more work needs to go into looking at attitudes and behaviors,” said Kelly A. Hogan, one of the study’s authors. She is the director of instructional innovation for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
But Dr. Hogan noted that disadvantaged students arrived at college with poorer study skills, and a more active approach to learning effectively teaches those skills. Research has also shown that disadvantaged students are less likely to participate in class, and report feeling intimidated or isolated, so they may benefit more from a structure that demands participation and cooperation, she said…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/education/active-learning-study.html?ref=education&_r=1


CBE-Life Sciences Educationwww.lifescied.org
1. doi: 10.1187/cbe.14-03-0050 CBE Life Sci Educ vol. 13 no. 3 453-468
• General Articles
Getting Under the Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work?
1. Sarah L. Eddy* and
2. Kelly A. Hogan†⇑
+ Affiliations
1. *Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
2. †Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599
1. Hannah Sevian, Monitoring Editor
• Submitted March 17, 2014.
• Revised May 20, 2014.
• Accepted May 27, 2014.
At the college level, the effectiveness of active-learning interventions is typically measured at the broadest scales: the achievement or retention of all students in a course. Coarse-grained measures like these cannot inform instructors about an intervention’s relative effectiveness for the different student populations in their classrooms or about the proximate factors responsible for the observed changes in student achievement. In this study, we disaggregate student data by racial/ethnic groups and first-generation status to identify whether a particular intervention—increased course structure—works better for particular populations of students. We also explore possible factors that may mediate the observed changes in student achievement. We found that a “moderate-structure” intervention increased course performance for all student populations, but worked disproportionately well for black students—halving the black–white achievement gap—and first-generation students—closing the achievement gap with continuing-generation students. We also found that students consistently reported completing the assigned readings more frequently, spending more time studying for class, and feeling an increased sense of community in the moderate-structure course. These changes imply that increased course structure improves student achievement at least partially through increasing student use of distributed learning and creating a more interdependent classroom community.
• Address correspondence to: Kelly Hogan (Kelly_Hogan@unc.edu). Conflict of interest statement: Kelly A. Hogan, a coauthor for Pearson’s Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections, 8th ed., and its associated Mastering Biology online tools (which were used in this study) was not affiliated with the products at the time of the course intervention. No promotion of Mastering Biology to the exclusion of other similar products should be construed.
“ASCB®” and “The American Society for Cell Biology®” are registered trademarks of The American Society of Cell Biology.

Here is the press release from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill:

Active learning in large science classes benefits black and first-generation college students most
Posted on September 2, 2014 by Helen Buchanan
For immediate use
Active learning in large science classes benefits black
and first-generation college students most
The achievement gap disappeared for first-generation students and decreased by half for black students
(Chapel Hill, N.C.—Sept. 2, 2014) In large college science classes, active learning interventions improve achievement for everyone, but especially black and first-generation students, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
When a traditional lecture course was structured to be more interactive, the achievement gap disappeared for first-generation students and decreased by half for black students, according to Kelly Hogan, a biologist and director of instructional innovation in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. Transforming large lecture classes is a priority for the college.
Hogan’s study, “Getting Under the Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work?” appears in the Sept. 2 issue of the journal CBE-Life Sciences Education. Her co-author is Sarah L. Eddy of the University of Washington in Seattle. Hogan and Eddy collected data over six semesters at UNC.
The study compares student achievement in classes with “low course structure” to those with “higher course structure.” Low course structure is “a traditional classroom where students come in, listen to the instructor, leave and don’t do anything until the night before the exam,” Hogan said. Higher course structure adds guided reading questions, preparatory homework and in-class activities that reinforce major concepts, study skills and higher-order thinking skills. As an example of an in-class activity, students answered questions using classroom-response software on their laptops and cell phones.
Students are held accountable for the assignments— they are awarded points for being prepared and participating in class.
“If I’m talking at students, they’re shopping, they’re on ESPN or Facebook,” Hogan said. “But if I ask them a question and have them wrestle with it, they are listening now because they are engaged in solving that problem.”
Hogan’s study is one of the few college-level studies to separate student data by racial/ethnic groups and first-generation status to identify which interventions work best for certain groups of students in a large science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) course.
The researchers used surveys at the end of the course to learn how the interventions affected student behaviors and attitudes.
“We found that in the higher course structure, students consistently reported completing the assigned readings more frequently and spent more time studying for class, and there was an increased sense of community,” Hogan said.
Their study also demonstrates that active learning interventions can be transferrable from a Pacific Northwest research university to a Southern research university across three contexts: different instructors, different student populations and different courses (majors vs. nonmajors).
“This is good evidence that an intervention is transferrable, and I think that’s going to be powerful for a lot of teachers in the field,” Hogan said.
More instructors are “flipping” their classes — putting lectures online for students to watch at home and using the classroom for more interactive, collaborative work. But if a class is not flipped with accountability, Hogan said, the students still won’t come to class prepared.
Hogan outlines three key takeaways for instructors that are critical for understanding how to increase student success in large lecture classes:
• Students are not a monolithic group.
• Accountability is essential for changing student behaviors and possibly grades.
• Survey questions are a useful method of identifying what behaviors an instructor might target to increase student performance.
“The message I want to get out to teachers is, ‘go for it,’” Hogan said. “An individual teacher can make a difference.”
The study was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Faculty Excellence at UNC. A link to the study online is available here: http://www.lifescied.org/content/13/3/453.full.
For stories and videos featuring Hogan’s innovation in large lecture classes, visit http://tinyurl.com/m97nyby and http://tinyurl.com/klhpwda.
College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Spurr, (919) 962-4093, spurrk@email.unc.edu
Communications and Public Affairs contact: Susan Hudson, (919) 962-8415, susan_hudson@unc.edu
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There should not be a one size fits all approach. Strategies must be designed for each population of kids.

Other Resources:

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/brochure/meread/meread.pdf

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/4423.pdf

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-2/boys.html

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success http://www.k12reader.com/boys-and-reading/


What the ACT college readiness assessment means https://drwilda.com/2012/08/25/what-the-act-college-readiness-assessment-means/

Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’ https://drwilda.com/2012/07/11/study-what-skills-are-needed-for-21st-century-learning/

ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/act-to-assess-college-readiness-for-3rd-10th-grades/

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