Low-Cost Instructional Changes Can Cut Achievement Gap in Intro Biology, Scholars Say
When instructors at the University of Washington redesigned their introductory-biology course in a “highly structured” style, with active-learning exercises, daily quizzes, and weekly online essay assignments, all students’ performance improved, but especially the performance of students whose high-school preparation was weak. The achievement gap between students from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds closed by nearly half.
This is a good approach for most courses, particularly content-heavy courses. If your students are reading a chapter or more a week, it’s a good idea to keep them engaged both inside and outside of class with the content.
I do this with one of my classes that is heavy on vocabulary and expressions. It’s too easy for students to get behind. A quiz before the start of every unit (to make sure they have read it) and 2 assignments per unit to check their language use.
It works very well in terms of class involvement; however, it is a little burdensome for me, the teacher. I’ll likely cut down to one assignment, but I’ll keep the quizzes.