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Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2005 Nov;33(6):387-93. doi: 10.1002/bmb.2005.49403306387.

Comparison of student performance in cooperative learning and traditional lecture-based biochemistry classes.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131.

Abstract

Student performance in two different introductory biochemistry curricula are compared based on standardized testing of student content knowledge, problem-solving skills, and student opinions about the courses. One curriculum was used in four traditional, lecture-based classes (n = 381 students), whereas the second curriculum was used in two cooperative learning classes (n = 39 students). Students in the cooperative learning classes not only performed at a level above their peers in standardized testing of content knowledge and in critical thinking and problem-solving tasks (p < 0.05), but they also were more positive about their learning experience. The testing data are in contrast to much of the medical school literature on the performance of students in problem-based learning (PBL) curricula, which shows little effect of the curricular format on student exam scores. The reason for the improvement is undoubtedly multifactorial. We argue that the enhancement of student performance in this study is related to: 1) the use of peer educational assistants, 2) an authentic PBL format, and 3) the application of a multicontextual learning environment in the curricular design. Though educationally successful, the cooperative learning classes as described in this study were too resource intensive to continue; however, we are exploring incorporation of some of the "high context" aspects of the small-group interactions into our current lecture-based course with the addition of on-line PBL cases.

PMID:
21638607
DOI:
10.1002/bmb.2005.49403306387
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