INCREASED COMPLETION RATES FOLLOWING COURSE REDESIGN IN A 2YC PHYSICAL GEOLOGY COURSE
Eight semesters of data from a redesigned section of Physical Geology with class sizes up to 45 were analyzed, including four semesters that preceded course redesign and the four that followed. Data indicates that the rate at which students withdrew or failed (W/F) the course decreased from 21% to 9%. The rate at which students of color withdrew from or failed Physical Geology also declined from 38.9% to 20.8%. Prior to course redesign, female student W/F rate was 21.7%. In the four semesters following course redesign, no females withdrew or failed the course. This data was shown to be statistically significant (p < 0.01). Further analysis of data for students of color showed little change in the W/F rate for males, but an elimination of W/F grades for female students of color. However, the sample size for students of color was too small to be considered valid.
The results not only support existing literature on the benefits of active learning, particularly for groups underrepresented in STEM disciplines, but also illustrate the need for faculty to have support and time to focus on meaningful course design.