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A Discussion Group Program Enhances the Conceptual Reasoning Skills of Students Enrolled in a Large Lecture-Format Introductory Biology Course

    Author: Marcy A. Peteroy-Kelly1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology and Health Sciences, Pace University, New York, New York 10038
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 17 May 2007
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biology and Health Sciences, Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza, New York, New York 10038. Phone: (212) 346-1353. E-mail: mkelly2@pace.edu.
    • Copyright © 2007, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2007 vol. 8 no. 1 13-21. doi:10.1128/193578807X14285807236222
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    Abstract:

    It has been well-established that discussion groups enhance student learning in large lecture courses. The goal of this study was to determine the impact of a discussion group program on the development of conceptual reasoning skills of students enrolled in a large lecture-format introductory biology course. In the discussion group, students worked on problems based on topics discussed in lecture. The program was evaluated using three assessment tools. First, student responses to pre- and posttests were analyzed. The test question asked the students to demonstrate the relationships between 10 different but related terms. Use of a concept map to link the terms indicated an advanced level of conceptual reasoning skills. There was a 13.8% increase in the use of concept maps from pre- to posttest. Second, the students took a Likert-type survey to determine the perceived impact of the program on their conceptual reasoning skills. Many of the students felt that the program helped them understand and use the main course concepts to logically solve problems. Finally, average exam grades increased as the semester progressed. The average final grade in the course was 75%. Students enrolled in the course the previous year (where the lecture component of the course did not assess or reflect student learning in the discussion group) had an average final grade of 69%. The results of this study demonstrate that the discussion group program improves the conceptual reasoning skills of students enrolled in a large lecture-format introductory biology course.

References & Citations

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/193578807X14285807236222
2007-05-17
2017-11-24

Abstract:

It has been well-established that discussion groups enhance student learning in large lecture courses. The goal of this study was to determine the impact of a discussion group program on the development of conceptual reasoning skills of students enrolled in a large lecture-format introductory biology course. In the discussion group, students worked on problems based on topics discussed in lecture. The program was evaluated using three assessment tools. First, student responses to pre- and posttests were analyzed. The test question asked the students to demonstrate the relationships between 10 different but related terms. Use of a concept map to link the terms indicated an advanced level of conceptual reasoning skills. There was a 13.8% increase in the use of concept maps from pre- to posttest. Second, the students took a Likert-type survey to determine the perceived impact of the program on their conceptual reasoning skills. Many of the students felt that the program helped them understand and use the main course concepts to logically solve problems. Finally, average exam grades increased as the semester progressed. The average final grade in the course was 75%. Students enrolled in the course the previous year (where the lecture component of the course did not assess or reflect student learning in the discussion group) had an average final grade of 69%. The results of this study demonstrate that the discussion group program improves the conceptual reasoning skills of students enrolled in a large lecture-format introductory biology course.

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Figures

Image of FIG. 1

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FIG. 1

Responses to pre- and posttest questions. Percentage of students that responded to the question on the pretest (black bars) and posttest (white bars) using the different answer categories (listed on the x axis). Actual percentage values are listed above each bar. One hundred fifteen of the fall 2005 Biology 101 students took the pretest while 85 of them took the posttest.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2007 vol. 8 no. 1 13-21. doi:10.1128/193578807X14285807236222
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Image of FIG. 2

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FIG. 2

Representative examples of student-prepared concept maps in response to the (A and B) pretest question and (C and D) posttest question.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2007 vol. 8 no. 1 13-21. doi:10.1128/193578807X14285807236222
Download as Powerpoint

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