If this NY Times piece is right, then we must provide college science faculty with the means to change the way we teach

Consider this lead from an article in Sunday’s New York Times:

DOES the college lecture discriminate? Is it biased against undergraduates who are not white, male and affluent?

And the concluding paragraph:

Given that active-learning approaches benefit all students, but especially those who are female, minority, low-income and first-generation, shouldn’t all universities be teaching this way?

Given the decline in the percentage of degrees in engineering and related fields awarded to black students in Florida’s public universities, and the stubborn and severe underrepresentation of women among degree earners in the same fields, the state’s institutions should be encouraging faculty to adopt active-learning strategies like FSU’s studio physics program (which is the local franchise of the SCALE-UP design devised at North Carolina State University).

Now consider the experience of a younger colleague of mine who took the initiative to join our studio physics program this fall.  For one of his two-hour studio classes, he was assigned to teach in (wait for it) a lecture hall.  The studio physics program has run out of space at FSU.  No room at the inn.

It’s obviously time for FSU to follow the lead of the University of Minnesota and address the shortage of active learning space.  The University of Minnesota opened its Science Teaching and Student Services Building with a huge number of active learning facilities (shown below) in 2010.

STSS

STSS

If FSU and the State University System are to address the grievous underrepresentation of black students and women in engineering and related lucrative college majors, then we will have to invest in facilities that will allow us to teach more effectively to those populations.

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