2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 25
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


SCHILTZ, Brooke and NOLL, Mark R., Department of the Earth Sciences, SUNY College at Brockport, 350 New Campus Dr, Brockport, NY 14420, bsch0704@brockport.edu

Science courses are often one of the most feared of the common general education requirements, yet in today's technology driven society science-based skills are of increasing importance. To better engage students in general education science courses many instructors have implemented newer pedagogical methods that incorporate active learning techniques and methods that are advantageous to many learning styles. At SUNY Brockport, GEL 100 Our Earth is a 3-credit general education survey of geology course. Traditionally, the course was taught in a large lecture format to over 100 students per semester with some taking the optional 1-credit lab. More recently, the course was redesigned and separated from the 4-credit lab course for majors. The new course is still taught in the traditional large lecture format, but incorporates numerous active learning techniques, and gives students opportunities each session to do lab-style exercises. In this study, we evaluate the effectiveness of the pedagogical enhancements to the course as it pertains to reaching students with varying learning styles. Felder (1993), among others, suggests that the learning style of an instructor will strongly influence their teaching style. This may be instrumental in the learning outcome of students with similar or dissimilar learning styles. A learning style inventory was given to students in the course during three recent semesters. The students were classified into one of four learning styles, and three subgroups were created, similar to, somewhat similar to and dissimilar to the instructor. The three subgroups were compared using several measures of student performance including pre- and post-tests, and final course average. Results show that the performance of the subgroup most dissimilar to the instructors learning style performed better based on the results of a two-tailed t-test. The variation in means among the 3 subgroups, however, ranges from 83.8 to 86.3. This suggests that while the subgroups may show some statistical differences, the learning outcomes for all students are not biased by the instructors learning style. Therefore, the pedagogical changes introduced have made the course accessible to students regardless of learning style.