An Assessment of Engagement and Higher Order Thinking in a Novel Laboratory Experience

Anna M. Herdliska, University of North Georgia
Christian S. Haygood, University of North Georgia

Description/Abstract

Conventional teaching styles in introductory biology classrooms rely heavily on lecture. Many students passively re-learn material previously covered. In order to create a dynamic experience, we applied an interactive approach. Students who engaged in the novel laboratory experience described here demonstrated significant increases in learning gains; specifically, gains in higher order thinking skills. The sample for this study was 241 freshmen undergraduate students in four courses taught over two semesters. Students in the experimental groups (n=114) followed an altered laboratory schedule, in which they completed a project that applied the scientific method to their experimental design. Aspects of this project included: hypothesis formation, an oral proposal and poster presentation. As an objective measurement, the Experimental Design Ability Test was used to test students understanding of the scientific method. As a subjective approach, the Student Assessment of Learning Gains, the Engaged Learning Index, and the Student Course Evaluation Questionnaire were also used. These self-report questionnaires allow educators to ensure that their students are fully engaged and are using critical thinking and analytical skills. Together, this study will demonstrate the effective use of undergraduate research experiences in the laboratory setting.

 
Apr 3rd, 6:00 PM Apr 3rd, 7:15 PM

An Assessment of Engagement and Higher Order Thinking in a Novel Laboratory Experience

Room 269 Open Classroom

Conventional teaching styles in introductory biology classrooms rely heavily on lecture. Many students passively re-learn material previously covered. In order to create a dynamic experience, we applied an interactive approach. Students who engaged in the novel laboratory experience described here demonstrated significant increases in learning gains; specifically, gains in higher order thinking skills. The sample for this study was 241 freshmen undergraduate students in four courses taught over two semesters. Students in the experimental groups (n=114) followed an altered laboratory schedule, in which they completed a project that applied the scientific method to their experimental design. Aspects of this project included: hypothesis formation, an oral proposal and poster presentation. As an objective measurement, the Experimental Design Ability Test was used to test students understanding of the scientific method. As a subjective approach, the Student Assessment of Learning Gains, the Engaged Learning Index, and the Student Course Evaluation Questionnaire were also used. These self-report questionnaires allow educators to ensure that their students are fully engaged and are using critical thinking and analytical skills. Together, this study will demonstrate the effective use of undergraduate research experiences in the laboratory setting.