INNOVATION ONLINE: INVERTING THE LECTURE-LAB PARADIGM IN SCIENCE EDUCATION
To test this hypothesis, over the past three years we developed and offered Habitable Worlds, an online-only astrobiology course. The curriculum is based on the Drake Equation, which meaningfully integrates concepts from astronomy, chemistry, geoscience, life science, and the social sciences. A major learning goal is mastery of the fundamentals of the greenhouse effect, a cornerstone of planetary habitability. The pedagogy is organized around a term-long, individualized, game-inspired project in which each student must find and characterize rare habitable planets in a randomized field of hundreds of stars using concepts learned in the course. This project motivates learning, which occurs in interactive and adaptive inquiry-driven tutorials, featuring feedback and pathways that adapt to student abilities, built using an intelligent tutoring system (Smart Sparrow's Adaptive eLearning Platform - AeLP). These tutorials are self-grading, freeing teaching staff for direct and intense student-teacher interactions. Through the lab-like project and tutorials, students construct knowledge from experience, modeling the authentic practice of science while mastering complex concepts.
We are assessing the effectiveness of this approach using robust data and analysis tools incorporated in the AeLP and the Piazza platform used for student-teacher interaction. These tools allow us to investigate how students interact with the exercises, and their concept mastery, in aggregate and at the individual level, to a degree not possible in traditional classroom settings.