Redesigning Introductory Biology

Redesigning Introductory Biology

UA Introductory Biology Redesign: Final report Lisa Elfring, Elizabeth Willott, Susan Jorstad, Ted Weinert, Ravi Palanivelu, Rob Leonard, Brian Larkins, Kate Dixon University of Arizona Introductory Biology at UA ~1800 students per year, ~1500 in fall This is a course for majors (>25 different majors) Six fall sections taught by 6-9 faculty Lecture sections of 200-300 students Few graduate student TAs-- Undergraduate tutors assist in class Traditional lecture-style presentation, no

required discussion sections Variable use of instructional technology Goals of our redesign 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Enhance student learning by using more active-learning techniques and increasing students out-of-class time spent on the course Promote students view of biology as a rapidly changing, interdisciplinary endeavor Increase the uniformity in course content and instructional approaches among the different sections

Increase student success rates in the class (number of students who achieve overall scores 60% in the course). Develop mechanisms that enable these changes and accommodate anticipated increased student enrollment without a concomitant increase in personnel. Key features of redesign Pre-class tutorials and quizzes In-class activities that promote student interaction and higher-level learning Undergraduate tutors use technology to provide out-of-class help Learning materials adopted from Pearson Publishing- Mastering Biology Assessment: Pre- and post-tests, embedded final exam questions, post-post tests in

ensuing biology courses Final report: Fall 2008, full implementation Five of six sections used the redesign strategies (n=1,184 students). One instructor (n= 284 students) chose not to follow the redesign protocol All redesigned sections adopted 11 common final exam questions on key concepts All sections completed pre- and posttests (administered in laboratory sections) Learning outcomes Compared traditional sections taught in Fall 2007 with redesigned sections taught by those instructors in

Fall 2008. Retirements and a death in Fall 2007-- 2 new instructors in 2008 2007 traditional Pretest 52.15% Posttest Gain 59.6% 7.47% +/- 9.6% +/- 11.5%

N= 515 2008 55.31% redesigned +/- 10.2% N= 814 63.95% +/- 8.6% 8.64% Other student impacts Course evaluations: ratings essentially unchanged Lecture attendance: ~75% vs. ~45% for

traditional sections (clicker points) Students positive about usefulness of Online quizzes (67%) Clicker exercises (48%) Instructor-created podcasts (75%) In-class problem-solving (61%) Course retention 2007 A B C D E W DR Other % DEWDr

13.67% 22.71% 25.21% 21.88% 9.99% 5.47% 0.71% 0.36% 38.41% 2008 A B C D E W

DR Other % DEWDr 13.23% 22.50% 30.43% 16.82% 11.34% 3.97% 1.42% 0.28% 33.83% Cost savings We moved from 9 faculty in 2007 to 7

in 2008 (target: 4 faculty teaching 6 sections) We moved from 6 graduate teaching assistants to 2 We moved from 30 undergraduate tutors to 42 Enrollment stayed relatively constant Challenges Uniformity of approach between instructors Changing instructor lineup Assessment, grade cutoff issues Time to become familiar with new resources (Mastering Biology) Student compliance in registering properly for technology resources

Time required for incorporating grades from clickers, tutorials into course gradebook Recruiting undergraduate tutors Surprises- positive Student response was largely positive 2008 students asking to serve as undergraduate tutors for Fall 2009 Increased collaboration between most faculty-- focus on assessment has increased engagement Ongoing engagement with publisher about text and Mastering Biology resources Surprises-negative About

1/3 students expected to receive an A at the end of the semester, despite much evidence to the contrary Pretest/posttest question: My interest in the content of this course is ___________. Results in 2007 and 2008: 25% responded great on pretests, 9% responded great on posttests The future

Shared course resources: Instructor-created podcasts, useful animations and links, exam and quiz questions, clicker questions, and course resources are available on a password-protected website Budget situation is uncertain. Will course enrollments continue to increase? For 2009, 5 instructors will teach 6 sections Instructor meetings continue-- opportunity for continued professional development and collaboration Moving toward common final exam Contact us Lisa Elfring [email protected]

Elizabeth Willott [email protected] Kate Dixon [email protected]

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