2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 33
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Quizzes on-Line: Enhancing the Student Learning Experience in First Year Undergraduate Environmental Science Courses


, stoessml@mcmaster.ca

The three freshman level environmental science courses taught at McMaster University serve as foundation courses for all 4 year honors programs in Earth and Environmental Sciences. These courses have annual enrolments of between 350 and 600 students and are taught using a whole class lecture format with small group lab sessions. Students taking these courses have very diverse educational backgrounds with only a small percentage (<10%) continuing to major in the earth sciences.

This poster presents results of an experiment designed to assess the effectiveness of on-line quizzes as a learning tool in first year environmental science courses and to gain information about how students most effectively study for such quizzes. The study involved preparation of on-line multiple choice questions covering lecture material, with follow up questions designed to provide information about student quiz preparation. Three types of course content questions were included to test the level of understanding of the course material: (1) knowledge based questions (regurgitating a fact); (2) understanding based questions (integrating two or more concepts), and; (3) application based questions (applying a concept to a real-world scenario).

Data collected includes results from four 20 question multiple choice quizzes taken by approximately 550 students. Quizzes were available over a 24 hour period and students were free to use any resources available to them. Initial analyses of the data obtained show a significant correlation between improvement in student quiz scores and overall course achievement. Also, students who reported more in depth studying, such as utilizing additional resources, tended to score higher on understanding and application based quiz questions than those that simply read over the notes. This initial analysis illustrates these quizzes assist in the learning of course materials and also suggests that encouraging research in addition to course notes enhances student performance.