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Nelson, J., D.F. Robison, J.D. Bell, and W.S. Bradshaw.  2009.  Cloning the Professor, An Alternative to Ineffective Teaching in a Large Course.  CBE - Life Sci.Edu. 8, 252-263.

The authors present 4 different teaching strategies to improve effective deep learning by thier students in large enrollemnt biology courses:  formative assessment, elaborative questioning, faculty mentoring sessions, and alumni consultation.  Researchers also measure the affect of the strategies on students.

Formative assessments were used in two different models - fully formative and a hybrid formative.  In the fully formative model, weekly quizzes were given to assess understanding of key concepts and data analysis skills, then the students were directed to discuss/critique their answers with their peers.  Points were awarded for participation, but not performance on weekly quizzes and a final exam was given to assess student mastery.  In the hybrid model, formative assessments were interspersed between normal summative exams.  Both models were effective in promoting mastery of concepts and data analysis.

Elaborative questioning sessions were implemented to promote 'out of class' study.  Students participated in at least 1 hr of this activity per week in which they each formed 'how?" and "why?" questons as small groups and critqued the answers that were given.  In general, a positive effect was observed, with a small percentage of students who felt they were independently capable of performing strongly without the activity or who did not respond to its benefits.

Although faculty mentoring (additional sessions external to class time) and alumin consultation (volunteer tutors) were included as additional strategies, they were not discussed in depth as to their impacts.  The authors provide a nice sectoin on caveats to their strategies and ways that they could be addressed.  This paper has given me a place to begin criticizing my experimental design and some potential types of assessment analysis (content knowledge and attitude) with which to start.

 

Glynn, S.M., and T.R. Koballa Jr.  2006.  Motivation to Learn College Science. In J.L. Mintzes abd W.H. Leonards (Eds.) Handbook of College Science Teaching (pp. 25-32).  Arlington VA: National Scicne Teachers Association Press.

The authors present an instrument for assessing changes in the motivation of students to learn science material.  They discuss motivational factors in science students: intrinsic and extrinsic, goal orientation, self-determination, self-efficacy, and anxiety as they contribute to student motivation.  Their Science Motivation Questionnaire (SMQ) (which has been validated as an instrument by several other papers subsequently) represents an assessment tool to help determine which motivating factors are most influencing a student.  The questionnaire can be given as a pre-test/post-test pair to measure changes in motivation at the beginning and end of a course/instructor/etc. to determine if changes in motivation have occured as a result of a teaching strategy. 

I'm considering using the SMQ as an instrument in my own study, or as a basis to try to create my own questionnaire that gets at student motivation and performance.  Question: if I create my own tool, how do I (must I) make a plan to validate it?

 

Keeling, A.  2008.  "We Are Scholars": Using Teamwork and Problem-Based Learning in a Candian Regional Geography Course.  MountainRise, 4(3), 1-13.

Students were divided into sustained teams for the entire semester and assigned research modules associated with a specific region of Canada.  For each module, teams produced an annotated bibliography and a briefing note to summarize the important concepts for their assigned region.  Discussion groups and breakout group work allowed the teams to share their knowledge of their region with each other.  As a final project, each student produced a synthesis paper on one of the team modules where all regions of Canada were compared with regard to a single topic (i.e. environmental challenges). 

At the end of the course, feedback from students was solicited as an open-ended question: "What are the main benefits and drawbacks of team-based learning as practiced in this course?"  Student responses indicating benefits included: "positive social interactions", "exchange of opinions and insights", "shared workload", "fostered debate and compromise", "enhanced leadership skills".  Drawbacks included: "difficulty coordinating schedules with others", "inequitable distribution of workload and/or performance", "group size too large", and difficulties in the collaborative writing process".

While the author indicates that this design was a transformative process in that students were empowered and drove their own learning:  investigating and synthesizing information, developing writing and communication skills.  He also indicates that the students the depth of knowledge for each student was targeted to the region that they were assigned to as a team rather than an acquistion of a breadth of general knowledge over the whole topic of Canadian geography.  He notes (but does not quantify) changes in student attitide and motivation as indicators of the transformative process' success.

 

Ritter, C., B. Polnick, R. Fink II, and J. Oescher.  2010.  Classroom Learning Communities in Educational Leadership: A Comparisonof Three Delivery Options.  Internet and Higher Educ., 13, 96-100.

The authors investigate the pergeptions of students on how well a 1) face-to-face, 2) online, and 3) hybrid or blended course delivery build a sense of community.  Perceptions were measured by an instrument called a Classroom Community  Scale (CCS) and the authors found that students partaking in online only classes  scored a much lowere sens of community and connectedness than those in face-to-face or hybrid courses. No snese of difference in learning in any of the three delivery models was found based on stdent perceptions.

For me, this makes the point that online only is not the way to go for me.  Loss in sense of community and connectedness is something I'm already battling.  I want to combine the technology and convenience of online coursework, and keep experiences with me in the classroom as an engaged and meaningful experience of learning.

 

Yen, J. and C. Lee.  2011.  Exploring Problem Solving Patterns and Their Impact on Learning Achievement in a Blended Learning Environment.  Computers & Higher Ed., 56, 138-145.

Blended (hybrid) courses combines mobile web-based teaching with face-to-face classroom instruction. In addition to a standard lecture in a freshman Introduction to Computer Networks course, students were given a problem to solve (measure and compare differences in Wi-fi traffic through the use of mobile devices [PDA, notebook computer, and 3rd party software.)  The authors collected self-assessments, weekly interviews, and logs of web-based material and resource usage as evidence of learning.  Students also particpated in an onlie test which could be broken down equally into 50% comprehension and 50% application.  Cluster analysis combined with content analysis of the data revealed three distinct groups:  hybrid-oriented, technology-oriented and efficiency-oriented.  Learners in the hybrid-oriented group used the classroom, web and mobile almost equally and without much exception  accepted whatever the professor said was truth.  Students in the technology-oreiented group spent most of their time using the mobile and web technologies, but were found to have only superficial problem-solving skills.  The efficency-oriented group was found to be more task-oriented and performed better than the other two groups in learning acheivements.  No measurement of attitude or motivation in these groups was made.

I like the use of cluster analysis combined with content analysis in this paper, and that may be a tool which would be beneficial for me to use to divide my study participants for further analysis beyond grade performance and motivation change.

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