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Redesigning a large-enrollment introductory biology course.

Ueckert C, Adams A, Lock J - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Bottom Line: The redesigned course resulted in greater student success, as measured by grades (reduced %DFW and increased %AB) as well as by achievement in the course assessment tool.In addition, the redesigned course led to increased student satisfaction and greater consistency among different sections.These findings have important implications for both students and institutions, as the significantly lower DFW rate means that fewer students have to retake the course.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA. Catherine.ueckert@nau.edu

ABSTRACT
Using an action research model, biology faculty examined, implemented, and evaluated learner-centered instructional strategies to reach the goal of increasing the level of student achievement in the introductory biology course BIO 181: Unity of Life I, which was characterized by both high enrollments and a high DFW rate. Outcomes included the creation and implementation of an assessment tool for biology content knowledge and attitudes, development and implementation of a common syllabus, modification of the course to include learner-centered instructional strategies, and the collection and analysis of data to evaluate the success of the modifications. The redesigned course resulted in greater student success, as measured by grades (reduced %DFW and increased %AB) as well as by achievement in the course assessment tool. In addition, the redesigned course led to increased student satisfaction and greater consistency among different sections. These findings have important implications for both students and institutions, as the significantly lower DFW rate means that fewer students have to retake the course.

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Box-and-whisker plot of %DFW before (semester type 1) and after (semester type 2) the course redesign. The top of the box represents the 75th percentile, the bottom of the box represents the 25th percentile, and the line in the middle represents the 50th percentile (median). The whiskers (the lines that extend out the top and bottom of the box) represent the highest and lowest values that are not outliers (values that are between 1.5 and 3 times the interquartile range) or extreme values (values that are more than 3 times the interquartile range).
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Figure 7: Box-and-whisker plot of %DFW before (semester type 1) and after (semester type 2) the course redesign. The top of the box represents the 75th percentile, the bottom of the box represents the 25th percentile, and the line in the middle represents the 50th percentile (median). The whiskers (the lines that extend out the top and bottom of the box) represent the highest and lowest values that are not outliers (values that are between 1.5 and 3 times the interquartile range) or extreme values (values that are more than 3 times the interquartile range).

Mentions: The data in Figure 3 and associated text show a significant improvement in student grades after the course redesign, and the variation between sections is addressed later in FiguresĀ 6 and 7 and associated text. However, it is formally possible that these changes merely reflect grade inflation caused by more lenient grading standards. To address this possibility, we examined pre/posttest scores. These scores were less subject to the possibility of grade inflation as the questions used were the same as those used prior to the redesign, and there was no change in the way these tests were administered before versus after the redesign. Figure 4 shows the difference between posttest and pretest scores in various sections over a 4-yr span (beginning in Fall 2006). As seen in the figure, there is a general trend toward an increase in posttest minus pretest gain after the redesign.Figure 4.


Redesigning a large-enrollment introductory biology course.

Ueckert C, Adams A, Lock J - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Box-and-whisker plot of %DFW before (semester type 1) and after (semester type 2) the course redesign. The top of the box represents the 75th percentile, the bottom of the box represents the 25th percentile, and the line in the middle represents the 50th percentile (median). The whiskers (the lines that extend out the top and bottom of the box) represent the highest and lowest values that are not outliers (values that are between 1.5 and 3 times the interquartile range) or extreme values (values that are more than 3 times the interquartile range).
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3105923&req=5

Figure 7: Box-and-whisker plot of %DFW before (semester type 1) and after (semester type 2) the course redesign. The top of the box represents the 75th percentile, the bottom of the box represents the 25th percentile, and the line in the middle represents the 50th percentile (median). The whiskers (the lines that extend out the top and bottom of the box) represent the highest and lowest values that are not outliers (values that are between 1.5 and 3 times the interquartile range) or extreme values (values that are more than 3 times the interquartile range).
Mentions: The data in Figure 3 and associated text show a significant improvement in student grades after the course redesign, and the variation between sections is addressed later in FiguresĀ 6 and 7 and associated text. However, it is formally possible that these changes merely reflect grade inflation caused by more lenient grading standards. To address this possibility, we examined pre/posttest scores. These scores were less subject to the possibility of grade inflation as the questions used were the same as those used prior to the redesign, and there was no change in the way these tests were administered before versus after the redesign. Figure 4 shows the difference between posttest and pretest scores in various sections over a 4-yr span (beginning in Fall 2006). As seen in the figure, there is a general trend toward an increase in posttest minus pretest gain after the redesign.Figure 4.

Bottom Line: The redesigned course resulted in greater student success, as measured by grades (reduced %DFW and increased %AB) as well as by achievement in the course assessment tool.In addition, the redesigned course led to increased student satisfaction and greater consistency among different sections.These findings have important implications for both students and institutions, as the significantly lower DFW rate means that fewer students have to retake the course.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA. Catherine.ueckert@nau.edu

ABSTRACT
Using an action research model, biology faculty examined, implemented, and evaluated learner-centered instructional strategies to reach the goal of increasing the level of student achievement in the introductory biology course BIO 181: Unity of Life I, which was characterized by both high enrollments and a high DFW rate. Outcomes included the creation and implementation of an assessment tool for biology content knowledge and attitudes, development and implementation of a common syllabus, modification of the course to include learner-centered instructional strategies, and the collection and analysis of data to evaluate the success of the modifications. The redesigned course resulted in greater student success, as measured by grades (reduced %DFW and increased %AB) as well as by achievement in the course assessment tool. In addition, the redesigned course led to increased student satisfaction and greater consistency among different sections. These findings have important implications for both students and institutions, as the significantly lower DFW rate means that fewer students have to retake the course.

Show MeSH