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Context & Problem

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 North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is an accredited Historically Black Institution (HBCU) charted in 1909 as the nation’s first public liberal arts institution founded for African Americans. Classified as a Comprehensive Level 1 Institution, NCCU offers baccalaureate and Master of Science degrees.  It has approximately 9000 students, 350 of which are biology majors. 

I teach General Biology I course, which is the first course for Biology majors, other science majors, and those who plan on enrolling in upper-level biology courses.  It is an introduction to the scientific method, a brief survey of the history of biology, an introduction to the physical and chemical properties of biological molecules, a survey of cellular structure and function, and an introduction to the basic principles of genetics. (Three lecture hours and two laboratory hours per week.)  

One of the most difficult teaching challenges I face is encouraging students to study on a regular basis. In my General Biology I course, which mostly serves Freshmen Biology majors, I explain to the students the first week of class that there is an expectation in higher education that students should study 1-2 hours each day for each hour in class. Even though they nod their heads as if they have heard it before, many students simply don’t put this to practice. Last semester, I started distributing a post-exam survey to assess exam preparation, study habits, student confidence, etc. In analyzing the responses, I was able to determine that most students only study a few days before an exam. I also discovered, however, that those students who studied more than 3 days prior to the exam scored on average ten points higher than those students who studied 2 days or less. There are many assumptions one can make as to why students do not study for their classes on a continual basis. These could include working, participating in athletics, band, social organizations or academic organizations, struggling with time-management, etc. In researching this problem either online or speaking with colleagues at various types of institutions across the country, I believe this problem is prevalent, especially those of us teaching freshmen-level courses. In regard to this problem, the most obvious question I ask is “What can I do in relation to my teaching that will encourage students to study on a continual basis?”  (Now move on to my research design page)

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I am really interested in finding out what you find since my project is very similar!!
Posted 15:33, 17 Jul 2009
This is a really interesting question that has the potential to open up doors to so many other projects.
Posted 15:34, 17 Jul 2009
When I was coordinator for Gen Biol I labs (taught by TAs, but I was the instructor of record and course designer) we gave short weekly quizzes at the beginning of each lab with the idea of a) getting students to read the exercise before coming to lab and b) to enforce on-time, regular attendance since the quiz is given during the first 15 minutes (late students risk getting a 0 since the quiz was collected at 15 past the hour regardless of when the student arrived; absent students and students who are more than 15 minutes late get a 0). It was probably more valuable for b) than for a).

I still use pre-chapter quizzes in public health micro lecture but I might stop since I don't think they work (although I've never analyzed rigorously).
Posted 15:36, 17 Jul 2009
Will implementing daily quizzes motivate students to study and influence learning?

One idea is that you could implement the quizzes online (using Blackboard) and you could even set this up so that you don't have to grade the quizzes (graded by Bb).
Posted 15:37, 17 Jul 2009
The control of yours with quizzes and colleague's without quizzes could be improved if you each did one section with quizzes and one without. This way the problem of instructor bias will be alleviated.
Posted 15:37, 17 Jul 2009
good design, good control. Have you read the cognitive psych literature that shows that practice and frequent testing increases retention? Those will be nice studies to quote: Karpicke and Roediger (Science 15 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5865, pp. 966 - 968) and papers by Bjork as well.
Posted 15:38, 17 Jul 2009
You might consider making the quizzes collectively worth more than 10% - to make it really worth more to them to keep up and do well on the quizzes. The point value is a sign of how much you value the item -since the quizzes are daily, each one will be worth a very small amount. Maybe increasing the value will show how important it is to you and therefore to them.
Posted 15:39, 17 Jul 2009
Will implementing daily quizzes motivate student to study on a continuous basis? improve class performance?
Very nice, tight questions. Nice design - having a control group is a bonus. Nice longitudinal study when you include the next semester survey.

In the physics literature there are studies on instructor bias.

You can have someone else collect the logs. That person gives you the names and you analyze the study logs anonymously later. Should someone else code the logs to maintain the anonymity?
Posted 15:40, 17 Jul 2009
I am not sure about instructor bias too. Great idea and design though! How about the content bias, I just wonder whether you would lose time doing the exam to cover the same amout of the content comparing to your peer, maybe this is a no-ground concern! I love love the weekly study logs idea....
Posted 16:08, 17 Jul 2009
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