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Citizen Science: The Small World Initiative Improved Lecture Grades and California Critical Thinking Skills Test Scores of Nonscience Major Students at Florida Atlantic University

    Authors: Joseph P. Caruso1,†, Natalie Israel2, Kimberly Rowland1, Matthew J. Lovelace1, Mary Jane Saunders1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431; 2: Department of Biomedical Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 March 2016
    • ©2016 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Phone: 561-297-3501. E-mail: [email protected].
    • In memory of Dr. Joe Caruso, 2014 Small World Initiative Partner Instructor, 2008–09 National Academies of Sciences Education Fellow, and a beloved and innovative teacher.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 156-162. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1011
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    Abstract:

    Course-based undergraduate research is known to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics student achievement. We tested “The Small World Initiative, a Citizen-Science Project to Crowdsource Novel Antibiotic Discovery” to see if it also improved student performance and the critical thinking of non-science majors in Introductory Biology at Florida Atlantic University (a large, public, minority-dominant institution) in academic year 2014–15. California Critical Thinking Skills Test pre- and posttests were offered to both Small World Initiative (SWI) and control lab students for formative amounts of extra credit. SWI lab students earned significantly higher lecture grades than control lab students, had significantly fewer lecture grades of D+ or lower, and had significantly higher critical thinking posttest total scores than control students. Lastly, more SWI students were engaged while taking critical thinking tests. These results support the hypothesis that utilizing independent course-based undergraduate science research improves student achievement even in nonscience students.

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References & Citations

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2016-03-01
2019-04-20

Abstract:

Course-based undergraduate research is known to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics student achievement. We tested “The Small World Initiative, a Citizen-Science Project to Crowdsource Novel Antibiotic Discovery” to see if it also improved student performance and the critical thinking of non-science majors in Introductory Biology at Florida Atlantic University (a large, public, minority-dominant institution) in academic year 2014–15. California Critical Thinking Skills Test pre- and posttests were offered to both Small World Initiative (SWI) and control lab students for formative amounts of extra credit. SWI lab students earned significantly higher lecture grades than control lab students, had significantly fewer lecture grades of D+ or lower, and had significantly higher critical thinking posttest total scores than control students. Lastly, more SWI students were engaged while taking critical thinking tests. These results support the hypothesis that utilizing independent course-based undergraduate science research improves student achievement even in nonscience students.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Fall SWI vs. control lecture grades. Note both more higher, and fewer lower, lecture grades for SWI lab students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 156-162. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1011
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Percent of SWI and control lab students earning lecture grades greater than C. Note increased performance of SWI students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 156-162. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1011
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Mean lecture grades in fall and spring terms. Note increased performance of fall SWI students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 156-162. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1011
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Image of FIGURE 4

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FIGURE 4

Percent of SWI and control students exceeding or equaling the mean final lecture grades of all students in their section. Note increased performance of SWI students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 156-162. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1011
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 5

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FIGURE 5

California Critical Thinking Skills Test results. Note increase in post-course results for SWI students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2016 vol. 17 no. 1 156-162. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i1.1011
Download as Powerpoint

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