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Long-Term Retention of Knowledge and Critical Thinking Skills in Developmental Biology

    Authors: Diane C. Darland1,*, Jeffrey S. Carmichael1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND 58202
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 03 December 2012
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org.
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: University of North Dakota, Department of Biology, Stop 9019, 10 Cornell Street, Grand Forks, ND 58202. Phone: 701-777-4597. Fax: 701-777-2623. E-mail: diane.darland@und.edu.
    • Copyright © 2012 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2012 vol. 13 no. 2 125-132. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i2.331
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    Abstract:

    The primary goal of this project was to assess long-term retention of concepts and critical thinking skills in individuals who completed a Developmental Biology course. Undergraduates who had completed the course between 2006 and 2009 were recently contacted and asked to complete a professional goals survey and a multiple-choice developmental biology assessment test (DBAT) targeting four levels of learning. The DBAT was designed to assess students’ retention of knowledge and skills related to factual recall, concept application, data analysis, and experimental design. Performance of the 2006–2009 cohorts was compared to that of students enrolled in 2010 who completed the DBAT at the beginning and the end of the semester. Participants from the 2010 course showed significant learning gains based on pre- and posttest scores overall and for each of the four levels of learning. No significant difference in overall performance was observed for students grouped by year from 2006–2010. Participants from the 2006–2009 cohorts scored slightly, but significantly, higher on average if they enrolled in graduate or professional training. However, performance on individual question categories revealed no significant differences between those participants with and without postundergraduate training. Scores on exams and a primary literature critique assignment were correlated with DBAT scores and thus represent predictors of long-term retention of developmental biology knowledge and skills.

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References & Citations

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2012-12-03
2017-06-26

Abstract:

The primary goal of this project was to assess long-term retention of concepts and critical thinking skills in individuals who completed a Developmental Biology course. Undergraduates who had completed the course between 2006 and 2009 were recently contacted and asked to complete a professional goals survey and a multiple-choice developmental biology assessment test (DBAT) targeting four levels of learning. The DBAT was designed to assess students’ retention of knowledge and skills related to factual recall, concept application, data analysis, and experimental design. Performance of the 2006–2009 cohorts was compared to that of students enrolled in 2010 who completed the DBAT at the beginning and the end of the semester. Participants from the 2010 course showed significant learning gains based on pre- and posttest scores overall and for each of the four levels of learning. No significant difference in overall performance was observed for students grouped by year from 2006–2010. Participants from the 2006–2009 cohorts scored slightly, but significantly, higher on average if they enrolled in graduate or professional training. However, performance on individual question categories revealed no significant differences between those participants with and without postundergraduate training. Scores on exams and a primary literature critique assignment were correlated with DBAT scores and thus represent predictors of long-term retention of developmental biology knowledge and skills.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Comparison of pre- and posttest scores in Fall 2010 baseline student group. (A) The number of correct responses given in pretest versus posttest presented for individual participants. The mean ±, the standard error (S.E.M.) for the pretest (9 ± 0.43, white bars), and posttest (13 ± 0.32, black bars), were significantly different from one another ( < 0.0001) based on a paired t test. The scores increased by 52% on average with a normalized gain of 34%. (B) Questions grouped by category included factual recall (FR), concept application (CA), data analysis (DA), and experimental design (ED) with five questions per category. A two-way ANOVA of the scores grouped by question category revealed significant differences in the populations due to both question category ( < 0.0001) and the preand posttest matched pairs ( < 0.0001). Paired differences for pretest and posttest are significantly different for each question category with asterisks indicating the p-value as determined by Bonferroni posttest for < 0.05 (*), < 0.001 (***). The values graphed are the mean and S.E.M. for n = 30 participants. Individual scores were natural log transformed prior to statistical analysis.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2012 vol. 13 no. 2 125-132. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i2.331
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Comparison and distribution of scores for Developmental Biology participants from 2006 to 2010. (A) The mean and S.E.M. for the number (No.) of correct responses relative to the year in which participants completed the course. One-way ANOVA analysis of the populations indicated that means were significantly different ( = 0.046; F = 2.5). However, Bonferroni’s multiple comparison test did not show any paired comparisons with a < 0.05. The n for each year is the number of participants as listed in Table 1 . (B) Frequency distribution analysis of the scores revealed the minimum ( 5 ), the maximum ( 18 ), and the median (12.5) scores for all 90 participants with a mean of 12.39 ± 2.9 standard deviation (SD).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2012 vol. 13 no. 2 125-132. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i2.331
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Comparison of overall and individual year performance on specific question categories. The mean and S.E.M. for the number (No.) of correct responses for each question type relative to the year in which the participants completed the course. Values for (A) factual recall, (B) concept application, (C) data analysis, and (D) experimental design are shown. One-way ANOVA analysis indicated that the means were different for the responses to the Factual Recall ( = 0.013) and the Data Analysis questions ( = 0.024), but not for the Concept Application ( = 0.425) or Experimental Design questions ( = 0.649). Post hoc analysis with Bonferroni’s multiple comparison test identified statistical differences for pairs in (A) and (C) only, with asterisks linking the pairs. The dashed gray line in each graph indicates the population mean for all participants for Factual Recall (2.02), Concept Application (2.76), Data Analysis (4.23), and Experimental Design (3.4) as a reference point for comparison with each of the individual years.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2012 vol. 13 no. 2 125-132. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i2.331
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Image of FIGURE 4

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FIGURE 4

DBAT performance of students with and without postundergraduate training. The mean and S.E.M. for the number of correct responses is plotted for each question type for students with (n = 30, black bars) and without (n = 31, white bars) postundergraduate training in any field. Question categories include factual recall (FR), concept application (CA), data analysis (DA), and experimental design (ED). Two-way ANOVA of the populations indicate that 2.54% of the variation observed in the populations was due to whether or not the students had postundergraduate training of any kind ( = 0.0021) and 34.96% of the variation was due to the question category ( < 0.0001) with no significant variation attributable to the interaction between the two variables ( = 0.7203). Bonferroni posttests to determine pair-wise comparisons revealed no statistical difference between any combination and specific t values based on question type were 1.4 (DA and FR), 0.95 (CA), and 2.5 (ED) with > 0.05 for all. Individual scores were natural log transformed prior to statistical analysis.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2012 vol. 13 no. 2 125-132. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v13i2.331
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