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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Rybczynski, Stephen M. [1], Schussler, Elisabeth E. [1].

Out-of-class study group usage in an introductory undergraduate biology course.

Cooperative learning strategies such out-of-class study groups have been shown to increase student performance in elementary and secondary schools as well as in college. Despite these benefits, some instructors are hesitant to implement mandatory study groups in large lecture courses and instead encourage students to implement such groups on their own. Little is known about how these student groups form, what activities are undertaken by the group members, and whether study group participation is associated with higher exam scores. We used both quantitative and qualitative methods to identify patterns of study group usage over the course of a semester in a large lecture introductory biology course at a public Midwestern university. Also, we tested the hypothesis that study group usage and student achievement on course exams is correlated. Among students that responded to on-line surveys (n=123), 13% of students always used study groups, 20% used a study group but quit, 14% began using them late in the semester, and a majority (42%) of respondents never participated in such groups. A mixed-model ANOVA revealed that neither study group usage nor gender were significantly related to self-reported exam scores; however, the interaction of study group usage and gender was significant (males who used study groups scored lower) (p = 0.038). These results suggest that merely encouraging students to use study groups may not be enough. Many students are reluctant to participate in study groups, and some students who do participate are frustrated by an apparent lack of success; several mentioned wanting specific instruction on the use of study groups. In conclusion, instructors wishing to incorporate study groups should not only actively facilitate their formation, but should provide directions for using study groups successfully.

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1 - Miami University, Botany, 700 East High Street, 316 Pearson Hall, Oxford, OH, 45056, USA

Collaborative Learning
Science Education
undergraduate biology instruction.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Session: 36
Location: Superior A/Cliff Lodge - Level C
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Time: 10:45 AM
Number: 36010
Abstract ID:426