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CBE Life Sci Educ. 2007 Fall;6(3):243-9.

Increased learning observed in redesigned introductory biology course that employed web-enhanced, interactive pedagogy.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, USA.


Our Introduction to Biology course (BIOL 1010) changed in 2004 from a standard instructor-centered, lecture-homework-exam format to a student-centered format that used Web-enhanced, interactive pedagogy. To measure and compare conceptual learning gains in the traditional course in fall 2003 with a section of the interactive course in fall 2004, we created concept inventories for both evolution and ecology. Both classes were taught by the same instructor who had taught BIOL 1010 since 1976, and each had a similar student composition with comparable biological knowledge. A significant increase in learning gain was observed with the Web-enhanced, interactive pedagogy in evolution (traditional, 0.10; interactive, 0.19; p = 0.024) and ecology (traditional, -0.05; interactive, 0.14; p = 0.000009) when assessment was made unannounced and for no credit in the last week of classes. These results strengthen the case for augmenting or replacing instructor-centered teaching with Web-enhanced, interactive, student-centered teaching. When assessment was made using the final exam in the interactive course, for credit and after studying, significantly greater learning gains were made in evolution (95%, 0.37, p = 0.0001) and ecology (143%, 0.34, p = 0.000003) when compared with learning gains measured without credit or study in the last week of classes.

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