Higher Pass Rates for STEM Courses Using Active Learning

In a paper published in theĀ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and developed by lead researchers at the University of Washington, which included Scott Freeman, Mary Wenderoth, Sarah Eddy, Miles McDonough, Nnadozie Okoroafor, Hannah Jordt, and Michelle Smith, findings about STEM courses utilizing the active learning model illustrated higher pass rates than courses using a traditional lecture model.

To test a hypothesis, which asserted the fact that “lecturing maximizes learning and course performance,” 225 studies were collected and analyzed, which comprised of undergraduate education courses found within each of the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The failure rates from all of the studies were taken into account and were used to compare STEM courses that were using active-learning methods in their coursework with courses that had a more general lecture-style format.

Their research showed that there was a 12-point difference in the failure rates between active-learning and traditional courses, where 34 percent of students failed in the traditional classroom model, while only 22 percent of students failed in active-learning courses. The results also showed that students in traditional lecture-style classrooms were 1.5 times more likely to fail the class than students who were taking courses using the active-learning model. The researchers saw that the active learning environment was effective in all class sizes within the STEM disciplines, but was the most effective in smaller classroom settings, such as those with less than 50 students.


For a summary and link to the full report, click here!