Applications Now Open for Research on Closing Equity Gaps Using Evidence-Based Teaching Practices

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Company seeks 20 instructors teaching Introduction to Psychology and 20 teaching Introduction to Biology from minority serving institutions 

New York, March 27, 2022 -- Macmillan Learning, a privately-held, family-owned education publishing and service company, is seeking instructors teaching Introduction to Psychology or Introduction to Biology this fall to participate in research on closing equity gaps through evidence-based teaching practices. The study is part of Macmillan Learning’s ongoing research about how digital learning platforms and courseware like Achieve can help to close equity gaps in course completion for historically and presently underserved students, and students experiencing poverty. It is being conducted in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The research will focus on four specific evidence-based teaching practices: active learning, outcomes-driven instruction, formative assessment with feedback and metacognition; and, importantly, how resources and tools can be incorporated into courseware, like the company’s digital learning platform Achieve, to support underserved students and promote student success. The research builds upon the company’s prior study in fall 2022 on evidence-based teaching practices, which included more than 1,000 student participants from more than a dozen institutions. 

“Underrepresented students often face unique challenges in the classroom, including a lack of access to resources and support, as well as systemic barriers that may impede their success. We want to understand how incorporating evidence-based teaching practices within courseware can help create a more equitable and effective learning environment. While the problem we’re looking to solve is bigger than just courseware, we believe courseware has the potential to make a difference and are eager to partner with institutions to explore the possibility," said Marcy Baughman, Executive Director, Learning Science & Insights.

Research for Introduction to Psychology will be done using the best-selling Achieve for Psychology in Everyday Life, 6e, written by David G. Myers and Nathan C. DeWall. Research for the Introduction to Biology courses will be done using Biology for a Changing World, 4e. Students participating in the research will receive their course materials at no cost to them, and participation in the research study is voluntary.  

Results from the fall 2022 study are expected later this spring. Once the full set of results are available, Macmillan Learning will make its findings publicly available and create an implementation guide with examples of evidence-based practices that can be used in courseware like Achieve.

In concurrence, the company is also researching the impact of students’ sense of belonging and metacognition. That study seeks to understand the impact of using resources embedded within a digital courseware platform to improve students’ sense of belonging and metacognition skills; it will also examine whether improved sense of belonging and metacognition skills are related to other student outcomes such as course retention, content knowledge and exam scores. The first study took place Spring 2023 and the next will take place in Fall 2023.

Benefits of Participating:

In addition to helping build the body of research about evidence-based teaching practices, both instructors and the students taking their course will benefit from the study. Instructors will receive a stipend, professional development and recognition as participants of the study. Students who opt in to the study will receive free access to online courseware within Achieve as well as gift cards for providing feedback about their experience. 

Instructors from 2- or 4-year institutions teaching Introduction to Biology or Introduction to Psychology serving predominantly Black, Latino, Indigenous and/or lower-income students can register their interest in participating in the study here.  Applications are open through April 15, 2023.

About Achieve

Achieve is Macmillan Learning’s digital learning platform, which was developed with the goal of supporting students of all levels of motivation and preparedness and to engage them in and out of class to improve their outcomes. Because it was based in learning science, Achieve was the first product exclusively designed for higher education to earn the “Research-Based Design” product certification by Digital Promise. The product certification helps ensure instructors and institutions that the products they select were designed using research-based learning science principles and developed using best practices before using them with their students.

Previous efficacy research on Achieve found that it can help bridge the performance gap often seen among students entering college. That is, the more that less academically prepared students use Achieve, the closer they can come to meeting the performance of their more academically prepared peers. 

Studies conducted over four recent semesters (Fall 2019 to Spring 2021) with 4,400 students in introductory courses from six different disciplines demonstrate that past academic performance and college readiness have the greatest impact on students’ exam scores -- more than any other student characteristics. Achieve was able to support student success no matter a student’s past academic performance, college readiness, student characteristics, and course exam difficulty.

The more students use Achieve, the better they do in their courses. For example, students with higher grades on their Achieve assignments could expect to perform 9 points higher on their courses exams. Also, students that used Achieve less than what was typically seen with their classmates, performed 4% to 8% lower on their exams.

About Macmillan Learning

Macmillan Learning is a privately-held, family-owned company that inspires what’s possible for every learner. We envision a world in which every learner succeeds. Through our content, tools and services, we aim to make that a reality. To learn more, please visit or join our Macmillan Community