Mind the Gap

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Mind the Gap

How active learning improves equity in STEM classrooms

April 1, 2021 at 1:00 pm 2:00 pm

Educational inequity remains one of the most persistent and intractable problems in our society. Without equity, the STEM workforce in particular is unlikely to meet the needs of the growing economy. It will also suffer from stunted innovation, as diverse groups are more creative and more successful at solving complex problems. 

Despite widespread efforts to increase access to and inclusion in STEM, minoritized students remain excluded from both STEM majors and STEM professions. The reasons for this are complex but instructors can play an active role in disrupting these inequities. For example, active learning techniques have been shown to improve student performance on average, but can active learning also be a partial solution to achieving equitable student outcomes? 

This talk will be presented by Elli Theobald, Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. Her recent work demonstrates that opportunity gaps—differential performance between minoritized students (BIPOC students as well as low-income students) and over-represented students—were reduced by 75% in college STEM courses when instructors incorporated active learning strategies, but only when active learning was implemented in a majority of class time.

You will be able to post your questions throughout this session and have them addressed in a Q&A following the panel discussion.

Please register to receive your Zoom link.

Guest Speaker

Elli Theobald, PhD

Elli Theobald, is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. Prior to her current position, she worked as a middle school and high school teacher, completed her PhD in ecology, and transitioned to discipline-based education research as a postdoc. Currently, the heart of Theobald’s research program revolves around how to be a better teacher, with particular emphasis on how to achieve equity in college-level STEM classes.