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Active Learning in Undergraduate STEM Education

Understanding the benefits of active learning strategies.

The overarching goal of the Active Learning in Undergraduate STEM Education project was to increase student success through greater engagement in the classroom. Support from the National Science Foundation in the form of an Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research allowed research to be undertaken to measure the impact of implementing active-learning strategies in STEM courses and on professional development for STEM faculty members. Active-learning strategies include a wide range of activities that encourage students to interact with and respond to ideas presented in coursework.

Hispanic students enter science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions at lower rates than their non-Hispanic counterparts, and evidence suggests that more awareness and engagement in STEM fields in school can help diversify the profession.

Program Impact

Nineteen community college faculty members were paired with UC San Diego graduate students to develop, deliver and assess instructional practices to engage STEM learners. During the course of the project, researchers assessed the impacts of implementing active-learning strategies at two-year, Hispanic-serving institutions in San Diego and Imperial Counties:

  • Cuyamaca College
  • Grossmont College 
  • Imperial Valley College
  • MiraCosta College
  • Palomar College
  • San Diego City College
  • San Diego Mesa College
  • San Diego Miramar College
  • Southwestern College

Faculty members and graduate students received professional development that ultimately sought to improve student completion and to broaden participation in STEM careers. 

*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE 1645083. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

As a result of the Active Learning in Undergraduate STEM Education project, several educational products have been developed, including the Best Practices in Chemistry Teacher Education book and Professional development endeavor to propagate the use of active-learning strategies in science courses in two-year Hispanic-serving institutions article, and many more are in the works.