Do small classes in higher education reduce performance gaps in STEM?

Cissy J. Ballen, Stepfanie M. Aguillon, Rebecca Brunelli, Abby Grace Drake, Deena Wassenberg, Stacey L. Weiss, Kelly R. Zamudio, Sehoya H Cotner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Performance gaps in science are well documented, and an examination of underlying mechanisms that lead to underperformance and attrition of women and underrepresented minorities (URM) may offer highly targeted means to promote such students. Determining factors that influence academic performance may provide a basis for improved pedagogy and policy development at the university level. We examined the impact of class size on students in 17 biology courses at four universities. Although the female students underperformed on high-stakes exams compared with the men as class size increased, the women received higher scores than the men on nonexam assessments. The URM students underperformed across grade measures compared with the majority students regardless of class size, suggesting that other characteristics of the education environment affect learning. Student enrollment is expected to increase precipitously in the next decade, underscoring the need to prioritize individual student potential rather than yield to budget constraints when considering equitable pedagogy and caps on classroom sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-600
Number of pages8
JournalBioScience
Volume68
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Assessments
  • Behavioral science
  • Education

Cite this

Ballen, C. J., Aguillon, S. M., Brunelli, R., Drake, A. G., Wassenberg, D., Weiss, S. L., ... Cotner, S. H. (2018). Do small classes in higher education reduce performance gaps in STEM? BioScience, 68(8), 593-600. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy056

Do small classes in higher education reduce performance gaps in STEM? / Ballen, Cissy J.; Aguillon, Stepfanie M.; Brunelli, Rebecca; Drake, Abby Grace; Wassenberg, Deena; Weiss, Stacey L.; Zamudio, Kelly R.; Cotner, Sehoya H.

In: BioScience, Vol. 68, No. 8, 01.01.2018, p. 593-600.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ballen, CJ, Aguillon, SM, Brunelli, R, Drake, AG, Wassenberg, D, Weiss, SL, Zamudio, KR & Cotner, SH 2018, 'Do small classes in higher education reduce performance gaps in STEM?' BioScience, vol. 68, no. 8, pp. 593-600. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy056
Ballen CJ, Aguillon SM, Brunelli R, Drake AG, Wassenberg D, Weiss SL et al. Do small classes in higher education reduce performance gaps in STEM? BioScience. 2018 Jan 1;68(8):593-600. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy056
Ballen, Cissy J. ; Aguillon, Stepfanie M. ; Brunelli, Rebecca ; Drake, Abby Grace ; Wassenberg, Deena ; Weiss, Stacey L. ; Zamudio, Kelly R. ; Cotner, Sehoya H. / Do small classes in higher education reduce performance gaps in STEM?. In: BioScience. 2018 ; Vol. 68, No. 8. pp. 593-600.
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