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Does active learning improve student performance? A randomized experiment in a Chilean university

Alcalde, Pilar and Nagel, Juan (2015): Does active learning improve student performance? A randomized experiment in a Chilean university.

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Abstract

We study the causal effect of an active learning teaching method on grades. We designed a randomized experiment with students at an undergraduate business and economics program in Chile. Two groups were taught by the same professor: the control group used traditional lectures, while the treatment group used an active learning method. Treated students failed the class less but the effect was not significant. They also had significantly better grades at the end and during the semester. The treatment effect was larger for males and students with high application scores. The effect does not appear instantaneously, and appears to fade away at the end of the semester. Results suggest students allocate effort differently across both groups, and this interacts with the treatment effect.

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