Active learning narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented students in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math

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Achievement gaps increase income inequality and decrease workplace diversity by contributing to the attrition of underrepresented students from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors.

We collected data on exam scores and failure rates in a wide array of STEM courses that had been taught by the same instructor via both traditional lecturing and active learning, and analyzed how the change in teaching approach impacted underrepresented minority and low-income students.

On average, active learning reduced achievement gaps in exam scores and passing rates.

Active learning benefits all students but offers disproportionate benefits for individuals from underrepresented groups. Widespread implementation of high-quality active learning can help reduce or eliminate achievement gaps in STEM courses and promote equity in higher education.

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