2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


USIS, John D., Dept of Biological Sciences, Youngstown State University, One University Plaza, Youngstown, OH 44555 and SINGLER, Charles R., Dept of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Youngstown State University, One University Plaza, Youngstown, OH 44555, jusis1@excite.com

A review of 811 student evaluations of the undergraduate general education course "Explorations in the Sciences" (AS 2600 offered to non-science majors) revealed a significant majority (79%) believed that the goals of the course were achieved.

Youngstown State University adopted a new general education model in the Fall 2000 that required all undergraduate students to have a science laboratory experience. This outcomes-based, general education model expected students to: a) be able to understand and appreciate the natural environment and the processes that shape it; b) be able to realize the evolving interrelationship among science, technology, and society; c) understand the scientific method. In support of these goals, the natural science departments developed a multidisciplinary laboratory that required students to participate in the scientific process by investigating natural phenomena. Five-week laboratory modules were designed to encourage students to propose hypotheses and make predictions about demonstrations or guided exercises. Over a semester, a student transitions through three modules in different disciplines.

Students responded to this transition very positively, expressing it as unique (63%) or enjoyable (60%) verses confusing (6%) or fearful (5%). Seventy percent rated their laboratory experience fun or highly informative. Students especially enjoyed working in teams (81%), and 79% felt that they truly got to ananyze data and draw their own conclusions. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10=most favorable), summation of student responses averaged 7.4 for satisfaction, 8.0 for design, and 9.0 for instruction. Entry/exit evaluations revealed a substantial increase (67%) in student comprehension of the scientific method.