2006 Teaching and Learning Symposium

3:00-4:30 p.m., April 25, 2006
Mary Gates Commons

Session Description

Using Active Learning to Improve Student Performance in a Large Lecture Class

Scott Freeman and Mary Pat Wenderoth - Biology

Biology 180 initiates the year-long introductory sequence for prospective majors. In an attempt to reduce the high failure rate, we implemented a series of new course designs. In spring and fall quarters of 2005 we split the course into 2 sections that were taught back-to-back, from identical notes. Each section, and sometimes students within each section, answered in-class questions in a different manner (e.g. clickers versus cards) and did a weekly practice exam in a different manner (e.g. individually or as part of a group). Performance on identical or functionally equivalent exam questions indicated that 1) all students did better on exams compared to previous quarters, 2) attendance was highest when in-class questions were graded, and 3) students who were at highest risk of failing benefitted most from the graded clicker-question design.