Thesis Detail Page
Assessing and Enhancing the Introductory Science Course in Physics and Biology: Peer Instruction, Classroom Demonstrations, and Genetics Vocabulary
written by Adam P. Fagen
Most introductory college science courses in the United States are taught in large lectures with students rarely having the opportunity to think critically about the material being presented nor to participate actively. Further, many classes focus on teaching rather than learning, that is, the transfer of information as opposed to actual student understanding. This thesis focuses on three studies about the assessment and enhancement of learning in undergraduate science courses.
We describe the results of an international survey on the implementation of Peer Instruction (PI), a collaborative learning pedagogy in which lectures are interspersed with short conceptual questions designed to challenge students to think about the material as it is being presented. We present a portrait of the instructors teaching with PI and data on the effectiveness of PI in enhancing student learning in diverse settings. The wide variety of implementations suggests that PI is a highly adaptable strategy. We also provide recommendations for those considering adopting PI in their classes.
Classroom demonstrations are an important aspect of many introductory science courses, but there is little evidence supporting their educational effectiveness. We explore the effect of different modes of presentation on enhancing student learning from demonstrations. Our results show that students who predict the outcome before a demonstration is conducted are better able to recall and explain the scenario posed by that demonstration.
As preliminary work for the creation of a conceptual inventory for introductory biology, we discuss results from a survey of vocabulary familiarity and understanding in an undergraduate genetics course. Students begin introductory classes with significant gaps in their understanding, some of which are retained beyond instruction. Further, they overstate their knowledge, and the degree to which they exhibit overconfidence increases over the period of instruction.
University: Harvard University
Academic Department: Molecular Biology and Education
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!
Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.
Citation Source Information
The AJP/PRST-PER presented is based on the AIP Style with the addition of journal article titles and conference proceeding article titles.
The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.
The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.
The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.