Lawrence — A recent trend in higher education is seeing universities establish active learning spaces where students can move around, collaborate and interact with each other, as opposed to traditional lecture halls. However, given the limited space in the former, little is known about which students choose them. A new study from the University of Kansas found that students initially make choices based on their social networks. But that self-selection can push some students, mostly women, out of undergraduate programs.
Researchers at KU observed students participating in organic chemistry courses over the course of a year. Classes were delivered both in active learning spaces and in larger traditional auditoriums with less support for active learning. Researchers found that more women chose active spaces, and there were even greater changes in those who chose active spaces during semester breaks.
Initially, results indicated that students made choices based primarily on social networks. First, they saw where classes were offered. They then relied on what their friends told them in choosing a space. However, when the researchers interviewed students again during semester breaks, they found that students most interested in switching to or continuing to actively learn in her space focused on learning chemistry like a professional. I found that I put . Also, most of the women were interested in active spaces.
“The majority of students who wanted to take classes in active learning spaces were women,” said Michael Ralph, a PhD candidate in educational psychology at KU and lead author of the study. “There were also many honor students. These students prioritized learning about chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This became even more apparent by mid-semester, as there was not.”
The study was co-authored with Blair Schneider of the Kansas Geological Survey. David Benson, Associate Professor of Chemistry. Also, Doug Ward, associate his director of KU’s Center for Teaching Excellence, was published in the journal Active Learning in Higher Education.
The research team previously published a study that found that women and honor students tended to prefer active learning spaces. Whereas that study looked at one moment in time, the current study aimed to better understand how students arrived at their choice of study space over time. Due to limited learning space, only a limited number of students can take these classes. As such, researchers wanted to understand more about how a historically underrepresented group of students made decisions.
Data showing that students who prefer active learning spaces tend to think about science outside of class suggests that students who start thinking like chemists prefer active learning spaces, Ralph said. says. This, combined with data showing that women and honors students also prefer the space, suggests that active learning spaces are rated highly by students who are most likely to continue on to science graduate programs and who are likely to achieve high grades. suggests that there are A better understanding of why students choose active learning spaces and why women prefer actively active her learning spaces can help reduce barriers to success for women in the physical sciences and her STEM fields. increase.
Current research does not explore factors such as race, socioeconomic status, and other considerations that have historically been marginalized in science, but opens the door to these kinds of questions in the future. and at the same time give us a better understanding of how active learning spaces work. can you support
“We hear from women that they are looking for this type of space,” says Ralph. “Therefore, we used a statistical approach to find out how they chose classrooms. It was interesting, and showing how some of these formative moments influence students’ future choices and opportunities may help us help them early on.”
image: Students in a traditional lecture room. Source: Wikimedia Commons.