ERIC Number: EJ851870
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Reference Count: 27
Do Policies that Encourage Better Attendance in Lab Change Students' Academic Behaviors and Performances in Introductory Science Courses?
Moore, Randy; Jensen, Philip A.
Science Educator, v17 n1 p64-71 Spr 2008
Science courses with hands-on investigative labs are a typical part of the general education requirements at virtually all colleges and universities. In these courses, labs that satisfy a curricular requirement for "lab experience" are important because they provide the essence of the scientific experience--that is, they give students hands-on experience with designing experiments, handling and studying organisms, learning laboratory skills, analyzing data, and communicating results. To help ensure that students obtain this experience, most introductory courses have attendance requirements for lab. Although there have been many studies of students' overall performances in introductory science courses, there have been virtually no studies of students' performances in the laboratory portions of introductory science courses. This paper reports a study of students' academic engagement in labs of an introductory biology course. Class attendance is the leading indicator of academic engagement (e.g., students' course-related effort and activities) because it requires a consistent and ongoing effort that is directly related to students' academic success. This study was conducted in a traditional introductory biology course at the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota. The study included 1674 students enrolled during eight semesters from 2003-2006. The lab grade, lab attendance, and course grade of all students were monitored in this study. The results indicate that data-based changes in attendance policies can improve students' academic behaviors. The increased rate of lab attendance associated with a new policy correlated with a significant improvement in students' laboratory grades. The results support the claim that increased levels of course-engagement increase students' grades in labs of introductory science courses. Data presented in this study show that lab attendance, like lecture attendance, is also a strong predictor of students' academic performances in introductory science courses; students who miss increased numbers of labs earn progressively lower grades, regardless of the course policy about lab attendance. (Contains 3 tables.
Descriptors: Introductory Courses, Grades (Scholastic), Attendance, Biology, Science Laboratories, School Policy, Student Behavior, Science Education, Correlation, Learner Engagement, Academic Achievement, Predictor Variables, College Students
National Science Education Leadership Association. P.O. Box 99381, Raleigh, NC 27624-9381. Tel: 919-848-8171; Fax: 919-848-0496; Web site: http://www.nsela.org/publications/publications4.html
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Minnesota