A new study of a novel undergraduate program at the University of Texas (UT), Austin, has found that giving college freshmen the opportunity to do research as part of their coursework significantly increases their chances of completing college and graduating with a science degree. It’s the first conclusive evidence that so-called active learning courses, which science educators have promoted for decades as a better way to teach than lectures and cookbook labs, can lower the high attrition rates in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields at U.S. universities. And the relatively large size of the study, which appears in the current issue of CBE-Life Science Education, also has major policy implications. President Barack Obama has challenged the country to produce 1 million more STEM-trained workers by 2020, and the authors argue that scaling up the UT approach nationally would be a cost-effective way to help achieve that goal.
/ / Genuine research keeps students in science