A significantly greater number of students fail science, engineering and math courses that are taught lecture-style than fail in classes incorporating so-called active learning that expects them to participate in discussions and problem-solving beyond what they’ve memorized.
Active learning also improves exam performance in some cases enough to change grades by half a letter or more–so a B-plus, for example, becomes an A-minus.
Those findings are from the largest and most comprehensive analysis ever published of studies comparing lecturing to active learning in undergraduate education, said Scott Freeman, a University of Washington principal lecturer in biology. He’s lead author of a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of May 12.
The original citation: Freeman, Scott, Sarah L. Eddy, Miles McDonough, Michelle K. Smith, Nnadozie Okoroafor, Hannah Jordt, and Mary Pat Wenderoth. “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics.”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2014): 201319030. (html)