REACHING PRESERVICE TEACHERS IN A GENERAL EDUCATION OCEAN SYSTEMS COURSE THROUGH THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY
We used an online course management system (Blackboard) coupled with LectureTools, a web-based suite of applications, to generate student assessment data in an undergraduate geoscience course. The data were collected through assignments based on the FA principles of Assessment for Learning, as described by the Assessment Reform Group. Prior to implementation, we hypothesized that the combined use of these applications would ease reform by reducing the instructional burden associated with FA by automating the delivery, collection and grading of assignments.
Our study was conducted at Western Michigan University in a high-enrollemnt ocean systems course that includes a large population of preservice elementary and secondary teachers. Student performance and attitude data were collected over a three semester period using pretest/postests, knowledge surveys and interviews (N=881). While there was no statistically significant difference in student perfornce gains over three semesters, classroom observations indicated higher student engagement in lectures using LectureTools. Student interviews revealed how LectureTools and the FA-based assignments helped them study and self-assess their knowledge. At the conclusion of the study an interview with the course instructor revealed that while he saw value in the treatment strategies, his future use of these strategies would depend on obstacles such as changes in Blackboard or LectureTools. Results of this study help educators identify the potential costs and benefits of using multiple applications and how they can be used to improve student engagement and learning.