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First-Year and Non-First-Year Student Expectations Regarding In-Class and Out-of-Class Learning Activities in Introductory Biology

    Authors: Tanya L. Brown1, Kathleen R. Brazeal2, Brian A. Couch2,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO 80045; 2: School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1241
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    Abstract:

    National calls for teaching transformation build on a constructivist learning theory and propose that students learn by actively engaging in course activities and interacting with other students. While interactive pedagogies can improve learning, they also have the potential to challenge traditional norms regarding class participation and learning strategies. To better understand the potential openness of students to interactive teaching practices, we administered a survey during the first week of two sections of an introductory biology course to characterize how students envisioned spending time during class as well as what activities they expected to complete outside of class during non-exam weeks and in preparation for exams. Additionally, we sought to test the hypothesis that the expectations of first-year students differed from those of non-first-year students. Analyses of closed-ended and open-ended questions revealed that students held a wide range of expectations and that most students expressed expectations consistent with some degree of transformed teaching. Furthermore, first-year students expected more active learning in class, more out-of-class coursework during non-exam weeks, and more social learning strategies than non-first-year students. We discuss how instructor awareness of incoming student expectations might be used to promote success in introductory science courses.

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2017-04-21
2019-10-14

Abstract:

National calls for teaching transformation build on a constructivist learning theory and propose that students learn by actively engaging in course activities and interacting with other students. While interactive pedagogies can improve learning, they also have the potential to challenge traditional norms regarding class participation and learning strategies. To better understand the potential openness of students to interactive teaching practices, we administered a survey during the first week of two sections of an introductory biology course to characterize how students envisioned spending time during class as well as what activities they expected to complete outside of class during non-exam weeks and in preparation for exams. Additionally, we sought to test the hypothesis that the expectations of first-year students differed from those of non-first-year students. Analyses of closed-ended and open-ended questions revealed that students held a wide range of expectations and that most students expressed expectations consistent with some degree of transformed teaching. Furthermore, first-year students expected more active learning in class, more out-of-class coursework during non-exam weeks, and more social learning strategies than non-first-year students. We discuss how instructor awareness of incoming student expectations might be used to promote success in introductory science courses.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Student expectations regarding the percentage of class time they expect to spend completing activities and working in small groups or listening to lecture and taking notes. Student responses to both questions were required to total 100%. Response distributions are shown for first-year and non-first-year students. Central bars represent medians, boxes represent inner quartiles, and whiskers represent the 5 and 95 percentiles. General linear model, *** < 0.001, see Appendix 4 .

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1241
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Open-ended student perceptions regarding the best use of class time. Bars represent the percentage of first-year and non-first-year students who indicated each category at least once in their response. Fisher’s exact test, * < 0.05.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1241
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Student expectations regarding the amount of time they expect to spend on required and non-required work outside of class time. Response distributions are shown for first-year and non-first-year students. Central bars represent medians, boxes represent inner quartiles, and whiskers represent the 5 and 95 percentiles. General linear models, * < 0.05, *** < 0.001, see Appendix 4 .

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1241
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Image of FIGURE 4

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FIGURE 4

Open-ended student expectations regarding out-of-class activities during non-exam weeks. Bars represent the percentage of first-year and non-first-year students who indicated each category at least once in their response. Fisher’s exact test, * < 0.05.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1241
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Image of FIGURE 5

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FIGURE 5

Student expectations regarding the amount of time they expect to spend preparing for exams. Response distributions are shown for first-year and non-first-year students. Central bars represent medians, boxes represent inner quartiles, and whiskers represent the 5 and 95 percentiles. General linear model, * < 0.05, see Appendix 4 .

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1241
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 6

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FIGURE 6

Open-ended student expectations regarding exam preparation. Bars represent the percentage of first-year and non-first-year students who indicated each category at least once in their response. Fisher’s exact test, * < 0.05.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2017 vol. 18 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i1.1241
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