More attention has been given to increasing the numbers of students in STEM, and retaining STEM majors in higher education institutions since students decide to switch majors after they experience their first introductory courses in STEM due to poor teaching (Watkins and Mazur, 2013). This study explored whether active learning and student-centered pedagogies such as project-based and peer-led in introductory science “gatekeeper” major courses; BIOL 1306 and CHEM 1311 had an impact on student success rates, student perceptions, and student persistence in STEM fields at a community college in South Texas. The effects and interaction among student gender; females and males, and teaching strategies: lecture-based, project-based, and peer-led instruction on the variable of student success as measured by the BIOL 1306 and CHEM 1311 posttest while controlling for the BIOL 1306 and CHEM 1311 pretest, respectively, was analyzed through the utilization of a 2-way ANCOVA. The effects of the three teaching strategies on student perceptions was measured by the student Course Evaluation instrument in BIOL 1306 and CHEM 1311 through a MANOVA statistical method. The relationship between the three teaching strategies and student persistence in pursuing a STEM major for BIOL 1306 and CHEM 1311 students was analyzed through a binary logistic regression method. Throughout the BIOL 1306 and CHEM 1311 sections, there was no significant (1) interaction between gender and teaching strategy, (2) differences between the three teaching strategies, and (3) difference student gender on the variable of student success as measured by the BIOL 1306 and CHEM 1311 posttest while controlling for the BIOL 1306 and CHEM 1311 pretest, respectively. There were no significance differences seen between the three teaching strategies on student perceptions as measured by the student Course Evaluation instrument within the two courses. Students’ persistence in pursuing a STEM major was measured by subsequent enrollment in science major courses. A statistical significance was found in lecturebased and peer-led instruction within BIOL 1306, whereas project-based instruction was not a significant prediction to student persistence in pursuing a STEM major. Throughout CHEM 1311 courses, no statistical significances were found in lecture-based, project-based, and peer-led instruction.
July 26, 2016
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