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I teach at a regional campus of Utah State University.  The students in this rural area are mostly non-traditional, but the numbers of traditional students are increasing. The student body is very diverse in terms of their preparation, study skills and background experiences.

This year, I will be teaching for the first time our introductory biology course for biology, secondary education and natrual resources majors . It was taught in a traditional lecture style in the past. The course has a considerable attrition rate, and over the past few years the numbers of biology majors taking the course have declined.  While I would like to do surveys and/or focus group interviews to acurately determine the reasons for low recruitment and retention of biology students, I believe that changing the delivery of the intro course to be more interactive will go a long way to attract and retain biology students. 

I already have plans for this course: to measure learning gains using pre/post concept tests; to incorporate active learning through peer instriction using clickers (among other techniques); and to emphasize metacognition by introducing Bloom's taxonomy. The literature provides evidence that active learning increases learning gains measured by pre/post concept tests. I am interested to find out whether there is a correlation between practice using clicker questions at Bloom's higher order cognititive skills (HOCS) and performance on higher order exam questions. While I follow clicker question and exam performance of individual students during the semester, I can also ask how student perceptions of their learning and metacognition through Bloom's correspond to their performance through surveys and focus question responses. Hopefully, acitve learning will also lead to better retention of biology majors.

The following two questions are related to each other and can be asked siultaneously:

  1. Does improvement in HOCS clicker questions correlate with HOCS exam questions for individual students?
  2. Does metacognition through Bloom's taxonomy influence student attitudes toward their biology or thier learning?
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Viewing 8 of 8 comments: view all
It might be nice to have other faculty to bloom your questions to validate that part of your study.

You might want to make sure that you are not over-surveying and assessing your students.
Posted 16:17, 17 Jul 2009
Good questions and a nice place to start since you are taking over the course. Keep ALL data so you have baselines for studies in future years. remember - keep it simple.
Posted 16:20, 17 Jul 2009
Will the students also Bloom the questions? Or, will you just Bloom them for your analysis?

Have you considered surveying the students who were in the course in previous years to ask them why they are NOT majoring in Biology? (e.g. Were you planning to major in Biology when you entered the Intro Biology course? This might give you information about what you can do differently from what had been done previously.
Posted 16:20, 17 Jul 2009
Write your course objectives using Bloom's taxonomy.
Be careful you don't overwhelm the studetns with too many surveys, etc.
Posted 16:20, 17 Jul 2009
--are you testing whether the improvement is correlated or are you testing whether the performance is correlated ( i think these are slightly different)--you might need to look at average performance rather than actual change in performance
--maybe you could record % correct in a class period on their initial performance on the clicker questions; compare over the different class periods.
--you may have two separate questions--one on metacognition and one on performance
Posted 16:20, 17 Jul 2009
I know you already realize this, but paring down the research question is key. I reinforce your statement that clickers can definitely be used to text higher order learning!
Posted 16:21, 17 Jul 2009
Now I have to use a common online student evaluation form.

However, when I used to create my own student evaluation document, I would always ask at the end of the form to circle one:

My interest in biology has: a) decreased b) stayed the same c) increased.

My preparation to take more biology courses has: a) decreased b) stayed the same c) increased.
Posted 16:23, 17 Jul 2009
yes, seems like lots of work but will be interesting of course.
Posted 17:44, 17 Jul 2009
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