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ERIC Number: EJ936344
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 43
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1931-7913
Increased Course Structure Improves Performance in Introductory Biology
Freeman, Scott; Haak, David; Wenderoth, Mary Pat
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v10 n2 p175-186 Sum 2011
We tested the hypothesis that highly structured course designs, which implement reading quizzes and/or extensive in-class active-learning activities and weekly practice exams, can lower failure rates in an introductory biology course for majors, compared with low-structure course designs that are based on lecturing and a few high-risk assessments. We controlled for 1) instructor effects by analyzing data from quarters when the same instructor taught the course, 2) exam equivalence with new assessments called the Weighted Bloom's Index and Predicted Exam Score, and 3) student equivalence using a regression-based Predicted Grade.We also tested the hypothesis that points from reading quizzes, clicker questions, and other "practice" assessments in highly structured courses inflate grades and confound comparisons with low-structure course designs.We found no evidence that points from active-learning exercises inflate grades or reduce the impact of exams on final grades. When we controlled for variation in student ability, failure rates were lower in a moderately structured course design and were dramatically lower in a highly structured course design. This result supports the hypothesis that active-learning exercises can make students more skilled learners and help bridge the gap between poorly prepared students and their better-prepared peers. (Contains 3 figures and 8 tables.)
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; e-mail: ascbinfo@ascb.org; Website: http://www.ascb.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A