2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 305-4
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


RYKER, Katherine, School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of South Carolina, 701 Sumter Street, EWS 617, Columbia, SC 29208 and MCCONNELL, David, Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695

Motivating students to complete reading assignments thoughtfully before coming to class is a challenge faced by virtually all college instructors. One way to address this is to create a hybrid learning environment using the Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) teaching and learning strategy. Here, face-to-face class time is supported by carefully structured online activities tied to textbook readings. Students respond electronically to these activities before class, allowing the teacher to adjust the face-to-face portion of the instruction.

Instructors of introductory Physical Geology courses at North Carolina State University have developed a series of pre-class activities, called Learning Journals (LJs). These LJs are bi-weekly assignments that go with 4-6 pages from the textbook. Each LJ contains a mix of multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, and short answer questions that target pertinent or challenging concepts from the reading assignment. Over four semesters, these LJs transitioned from a traditional hardcopy format as individual worksheets, to a bound book, to an online submission. Previous work has showed that students write significantly longer and higher quality responses to short answer questions when LJs are completed online (Smith et al, 2013).

We compare student performance on multiple choice exam questions related to the Learning Journals in the hardcopy (worksheets, bound book) and online formats. No significant difference was found in exam performance when students used the printed worksheets or bound book. Students completing the LJs online significantly outperformed their peers who completed their assignments in a hardcopy format. Following these observations, we used data from the learning management platform (Moodle) to describe patterns in when students access these and other online resources. In addition to their role as assignments to complete, findings support that students view these online LJs as valuable study aids.