Title

Introduction to Success: Research in Higher Education Biology Courses

Poster Number

16

Lead Author Affiliation

Educational & School Psychology

Lead Author Status

Doctoral Student

Second Author Affiliation

Benerd School of Education

Second Author Status

Faculty

Third Author Affiliation

University Writing Programs

Third Author Status

Faculty

Fourth Author Affiliation

Department of Biological Sciences

Fourth Author Status

Faculty

Introduction

On-going University-level research provides us with useful, objective data about student performance in introductory biology courses, and a glimpse into factors that promote success for first and second-year biology students.

Purpose

Our research provides us with an opportunity to collaborate across University-level departments to determine what helps students succeed and create stronger learning environments using those factors: Do students who may otherwise be considered at-risk replicate the active engagement seen in similarly small classes? Does this engagement translate to success in the form of grades?

Method

This study uses five semesters worth of data collected from classroom observation of introductory biology students. These students were classified by the size of the classes they took, and (when appropriate) the status of the class (registration-type, remedial, block, etc.), and which semester the class occupied. Variables measured included the overall levels of engagement on a handful of lecture days in a given semester. These levels of engagement were collected using a modified Behavioral Observation of Students in Schools (BOSS) system. A given class' engagement was compared to factors such as the mean GPA of the class, individual exam scores, and non-biased lab scores.

Results

Results indicated that active engagement in the classes was significantly more difficult to achieve in large class sizes (n>60), while small classes were more able to achieve active engagement that involved all students in the class. Observed large classes showed students also engage in more off-task behaviors in large classes, while surveys indicate that the students feel invested in the discussion and their own presence in the small classes. Next steps are to compare whether or not more active engagement actually translates to an increase in grades for students in a remedial, but small-class sized lecture.

Significance

The research we are doing builds upon a foundation of active engagement literature in higher education settings. As we continue our work, we become more familiar with how our methods affect student outcomes. Further, as our research group grows to include more departments on-campus, we are finding there are more things that can be done to provide the best learning environments for students, with data-based accountability to ensure all of what we do does not go unnoticed. This research can provide inspiration for more University-level collaboration. As our project has grown, so have the services we perceive as viable for service-delivery. This increase strengthens the eventual student-learning taking place on campus. We can also work to tackle the problem of large classes and their attrition on student success by identifying and providing protective factors.

Location

DUC Ballroom A&B

Format

Poster Presentation

Poster Session

Afternoon

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Apr 29th, 1:00 PM Apr 29th, 3:00 PM

Introduction to Success: Research in Higher Education Biology Courses

DUC Ballroom A&B

On-going University-level research provides us with useful, objective data about student performance in introductory biology courses, and a glimpse into factors that promote success for first and second-year biology students.