Smaller classes promote equitable student participation in STEM

Cissy J. Ballen, Stepfanie M. Aguillon, Azza Awwad, Anne E. Bjune, Daniel Challou, Abby Grace Drake, Michelle Driessen, Aziza Ellozy, Vivian E. Ferry, Emma E. Goldberg, William Harcombe, Steve Jensen, Christian Jørgensen, Zoe Koth, Suzanne McGaugh, Caroline Mitry, Bryan Mosher, Hoda Mostafa, Renee H. Petipas, Paula A.G. SoneralShana Watters, Deena Wassenberg, Stacey L. Weiss, Azariah Yonas, Kelly R. Zamudio, Sehoya Cotner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classrooms in higher education transition from lecturing to active learning, the frequency of student interactions in class increases. Previous research documents a gender bias in participation, with women participating less than would be expected on the basis of their numeric proportions. In the present study, we asked which attributes of the learning environment contribute to decreased female participation: The abundance of in-class interactions, the diversity of interactions, the proportion of women in class, the instructor's gender, the class size, and whether the course targeted lower division (first and second year) or upper division (third or fourth year) students. We calculated likelihood ratios of female participation from over 5300 student-instructor interactions observed across multiple institutions. We falsified several alternative hypotheses and demonstrate that increasing class size has the largest negative effect. We also found that when the instructors used a diverse range of teaching strategies, the women were more likely to participate after small-group discussions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbiz069
Pages (from-to)669-680
Number of pages12
JournalBioScience
Volume69
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

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Mathematics
teachers
engineering
students
Students
Technology
electronic discussion groups
learning
Sexism
Problem-Based Learning
higher education
gender
Teaching
Learning
Education
Research
mathematics

Keywords

  • STEM equity
  • active learning
  • class size
  • gender
  • in-class interactions

Cite this

Ballen, C. J., Aguillon, S. M., Awwad, A., Bjune, A. E., Challou, D., Drake, A. G., ... Cotner, S. (2019). Smaller classes promote equitable student participation in STEM. BioScience, 69(8), 669-680. [biz069]. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz069

Smaller classes promote equitable student participation in STEM. / Ballen, Cissy J.; Aguillon, Stepfanie M.; Awwad, Azza; Bjune, Anne E.; Challou, Daniel; Drake, Abby Grace; Driessen, Michelle; Ellozy, Aziza; Ferry, Vivian E.; Goldberg, Emma E.; Harcombe, William; Jensen, Steve; Jørgensen, Christian; Koth, Zoe; McGaugh, Suzanne; Mitry, Caroline; Mosher, Bryan; Mostafa, Hoda; Petipas, Renee H.; Soneral, Paula A.G.; Watters, Shana; Wassenberg, Deena; Weiss, Stacey L.; Yonas, Azariah; Zamudio, Kelly R.; Cotner, Sehoya.

In: BioScience, Vol. 69, No. 8, biz069, 01.08.2019, p. 669-680.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ballen, CJ, Aguillon, SM, Awwad, A, Bjune, AE, Challou, D, Drake, AG, Driessen, M, Ellozy, A, Ferry, VE, Goldberg, EE, Harcombe, W, Jensen, S, Jørgensen, C, Koth, Z, McGaugh, S, Mitry, C, Mosher, B, Mostafa, H, Petipas, RH, Soneral, PAG, Watters, S, Wassenberg, D, Weiss, SL, Yonas, A, Zamudio, KR & Cotner, S 2019, 'Smaller classes promote equitable student participation in STEM', BioScience, vol. 69, no. 8, biz069, pp. 669-680. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz069
Ballen CJ, Aguillon SM, Awwad A, Bjune AE, Challou D, Drake AG et al. Smaller classes promote equitable student participation in STEM. BioScience. 2019 Aug 1;69(8):669-680. biz069. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz069
Ballen, Cissy J. ; Aguillon, Stepfanie M. ; Awwad, Azza ; Bjune, Anne E. ; Challou, Daniel ; Drake, Abby Grace ; Driessen, Michelle ; Ellozy, Aziza ; Ferry, Vivian E. ; Goldberg, Emma E. ; Harcombe, William ; Jensen, Steve ; Jørgensen, Christian ; Koth, Zoe ; McGaugh, Suzanne ; Mitry, Caroline ; Mosher, Bryan ; Mostafa, Hoda ; Petipas, Renee H. ; Soneral, Paula A.G. ; Watters, Shana ; Wassenberg, Deena ; Weiss, Stacey L. ; Yonas, Azariah ; Zamudio, Kelly R. ; Cotner, Sehoya. / Smaller classes promote equitable student participation in STEM. In: BioScience. 2019 ; Vol. 69, No. 8. pp. 669-680.
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