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Increased course structure improves performance in introductory biology.

Freeman S, Haak D, Wenderoth MP - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Bottom Line: 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.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. srf991@u.washington.edu

ABSTRACT
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.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Weighted Bloom's Indices and PES values are negatively correlated. The Weighted Bloom's Index summarizes the average Bloom's level per point on an exam; the PES summarizes expert-grader predictions for average points that a class will receive on an exam. Regression statistics are reported in the text.
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Figure 2: Weighted Bloom's Indices and PES values are negatively correlated. The Weighted Bloom's Index summarizes the average Bloom's level per point on an exam; the PES summarizes expert-grader predictions for average points that a class will receive on an exam. Regression statistics are reported in the text.

Mentions: There is a strong association between the Weighted Bloom's Indices (Table 3b) and the PES values (Table 3c): The r for the 18 exams in the study (excluding one iteration of the repeated exam) is –0.72, and a regression analysis shows that variation in the Weighted Bloom's Index explains 51% of the variation in the PES (Figure 2; F = 16.7, df = 1,16, p < 0.001).


Increased course structure improves performance in introductory biology.

Freeman S, Haak D, Wenderoth MP - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Weighted Bloom's Indices and PES values are negatively correlated. The Weighted Bloom's Index summarizes the average Bloom's level per point on an exam; the PES summarizes expert-grader predictions for average points that a class will receive on an exam. Regression statistics are reported in the text.
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3105924&req=5

Figure 2: Weighted Bloom's Indices and PES values are negatively correlated. The Weighted Bloom's Index summarizes the average Bloom's level per point on an exam; the PES summarizes expert-grader predictions for average points that a class will receive on an exam. Regression statistics are reported in the text.
Mentions: There is a strong association between the Weighted Bloom's Indices (Table 3b) and the PES values (Table 3c): The r for the 18 exams in the study (excluding one iteration of the repeated exam) is –0.72, and a regression analysis shows that variation in the Weighted Bloom's Index explains 51% of the variation in the PES (Figure 2; F = 16.7, df = 1,16, p < 0.001).

Bottom Line: 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.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. srf991@u.washington.edu

ABSTRACT
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.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus