A Modified Challenge-Based Learning Approach in a Capstone Course to Improve Student Satisfaction and Engagement †
Advanced Biochemistry, a senior capstone course for biochemistry majors, was first offered in 2011. The course objectives focused on students’ ability to access and use primary literature. Despite engaging conversation and excellent student presentations, evaluations of the course content were lower than what this instructor usually receives (3.65/5 compared to 4.3/5 from the previous semester). However, the evaluation of just the instructor was equivalent to historical results. In an effort to improve the course, a challenge-based learning (CBL) design was implemented in 2013 to frame the course around four big questions relevant to our world and local community. This change was made to test if a CBL course design would increase student engagement in the course and therefore their achievement of learning outcomes. Collected data show an improvement in students’ perception of the course. Most significantly, course evaluation results increased when compared to the previous year (4.5/5 as compared to 3.65/5 in 2011). Students also rated the CBL approach as highly effective in achieving core course outcomes and related skills (all queried outcomes averaged 4.2/5 at midterm).
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