Active learning approach shown to improve students academic performance.

An active learning approach is implemented into a university curriculum and compared to traditional learning formats with the same cohort of students.

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The research study “The use of an active learning approach in a SCALE-UP learning space improves academic performance in undergraduate General Biology” was led by Gokhan Hacisalihoglu from Florida A&M University, Florida, America. The study aimed to assess the benefits of an active learning approach over three semesters, compared to a traditional teaching format for six semesters. 505 undergraduate students enrolled in STEM and health science courses participated in the study.

The active learning environment or SCALE-UP flipped classroom model was implemented to create a more interactive space for students to learn. The students participated in class activities, watched videos and completed online homework. In addition, a reduced number of students attended these classes, 42 to 60 students. By comparison, when STEM courses were taught using the traditional format, 100 students would attend a lecture series presented in standard sized lecture theatres and assigned reading material to complete prior to and following the lectures. 

The same lecturer presided over all nine semesters and the students learnt the same course content. But the manner in which the material was presented and how the students engaged with the content using the active learning approach and traditional teaching formats, impacted on the students academic performance.  

The results of the study showed the active learning approach combined with the scaled up learning environment, enhanced the students academic results and attitude toward learning, compared to the same student cohorts overall academic scores after they experienced the traditional method of teaching and learning. However, a small number of students reported they preferred the traditional format and studying independently.

This interesting research article is freely available to read via PLoS ONE

Gabrielle Ahern

Managing Editor, npj Science of Learning Community

I am based in Queensland, Australia, and have an interesting portfolio of skills, experience and qualifications in science research and content creation.