Session Type

Presentation

Room

PAB 148

Start Date

10-7-2013 3:00 PM

Keywords

student-centered learning; evidence-based practice; course-redesign; curriculum reform; misconceptions; approaches to learning

Primary Threads

Evaluation of Learning

Abstract

Over the last two decades, a number of influential reports have called for fundamental changes to undergraduate science education. Most importantly, these reports advocate a shift from traditional lecture-based teaching formats to ones that use student-focused pedagogies to encourage deep student learning about key conceptual ideas in science. Based on these reports, and the underlying research, the University of Calgary completed an extensive redesign of its first-year biology courses in 2011, resulting in two courses: Energy Flow in Biological Systems and DNA, Inheritance and Evolution. These courses focus student learning on two foundational concepts and use student-centered pedagogies to encourage the development of critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Pre/post data collected from one year of the previous introductory courses and two years of the redesigned courses were used to determine the impact of the transition to a conceptual-based curriculum and the incorporation of active learning strategies including clickers and in-class group assignments on student learning gains measured via normalized change using questions from Biological Concept Inventory, Respiration and Photosynthesis Diagnostic Question Clusters and the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection. Student motivations and approaches for learning (e.g. deep versus surface approaches) using the published Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) survey and the Experiences of Teaching and Learning Questionnaire (ETLQ). Data show significantly higher learning gains during the two consecutive years of implementation of the redesigned courses than those achieved in the previous format. Additionally, students reported that lecture activities allowed them being more engaged with course content. We are currently analyzing student written responses, which will provide further insight into the impact of course redesign on content knowledge and critical reasoning skills on student success.

Media Format

flash_audio


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Jul 10th, 3:00 PM

Less Traditional – More Conceptual: Enhancing Student Learning in First-Year Biology

PAB 148

Over the last two decades, a number of influential reports have called for fundamental changes to undergraduate science education. Most importantly, these reports advocate a shift from traditional lecture-based teaching formats to ones that use student-focused pedagogies to encourage deep student learning about key conceptual ideas in science. Based on these reports, and the underlying research, the University of Calgary completed an extensive redesign of its first-year biology courses in 2011, resulting in two courses: Energy Flow in Biological Systems and DNA, Inheritance and Evolution. These courses focus student learning on two foundational concepts and use student-centered pedagogies to encourage the development of critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Pre/post data collected from one year of the previous introductory courses and two years of the redesigned courses were used to determine the impact of the transition to a conceptual-based curriculum and the incorporation of active learning strategies including clickers and in-class group assignments on student learning gains measured via normalized change using questions from Biological Concept Inventory, Respiration and Photosynthesis Diagnostic Question Clusters and the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection. Student motivations and approaches for learning (e.g. deep versus surface approaches) using the published Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) survey and the Experiences of Teaching and Learning Questionnaire (ETLQ). Data show significantly higher learning gains during the two consecutive years of implementation of the redesigned courses than those achieved in the previous format. Additionally, students reported that lecture activities allowed them being more engaged with course content. We are currently analyzing student written responses, which will provide further insight into the impact of course redesign on content knowledge and critical reasoning skills on student success.