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CBE: Life Sciences Education


Study group meetings (SGMs) are voluntary-attendance peer-led team-learning workshops that supplement introductory biology lectures at a selective liberal arts college. While supporting all students’ engagement with lecture material, specific aims are to improve the success of underrepresented minority (URM) students and those with weaker backgrounds in biology. Peer leaders with experience in biology courses and training in science pedagogy facilitate work on faculty-generated challenge problems. During the eight semesters assessed in this study, URM students and those with less preparation attended SGMs with equal or greater frequency than their counterparts. Most agreed that SGMs enhanced their comprehension of biology and ability to articulate solutions. The historical grade gap between URM and non-URM students narrowed slightly in Biology 2, but not in other biology and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses. Nonetheless, URM students taking introductory biology after program implementation have graduated with biology majors or minors at the same rates as non-URM students, and have enrolled in postcollege degree programs at equal or greater rates. These results suggest that improved performance as measured by science grade point average may not be necessary to improve the persistence of students from underrepresented groups as life sciences majors.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.


This work is freely accessible courtesy of the American Society for Cell Biology. The original article can be found here.