GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 155-12
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


ZACHOS, Louis G., Geology and Geological Engineering, University of Mississippi, 120 Carrier Hall, P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677-1848 and GIFFORD, Jennifer N., Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Oxford, MS 38655,

The University of Mississippi Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, in an attempt to improve student attendance, retention, and performance, tested the use of a web-based Classroom Response System (CRS) in three core geology classes at the freshman, sophomore, and junior level. Students purchased a license to the application, which they could access via their cell phone, tablet, or laptop computer. Quantitative comparisons of attendance, retention, and test performance were made with data from previous, non-CRS enabled classes. Classroom attendance is recorded using automated ID scanners. No significant improvement was made in lecture attendance over prior years. No significant change was found in retention, possibly because course drop deadlines were relatively early in the schedule, before CRS use became effective. Grades presented a mixed signal. There was a statistically significant improvement of 26% in the freshman class (Historical Geology) average over previous years. There was no statistically significant difference in class average for the sophomore class (Sedimentology and Stratigraphy) compared to previous years. Because of changes in instructor and class organization, no comparison could be made for the junior class (Structural Geology). Student evaluations of the use of CRS were varied. Positive reviews indicated a benefit to being able to view lecture slides in conjunction with questions, as well as improving student ability to “keep up with notes”. Most negative concerns were associated with a portion of their grade being based on CRS participation and the weighting of points given for correct answers versus merely participating. The use of CRS requires more effort and preparation by the instructor, but the potential value seems to outweigh the costs both to the student and instructor. The positive effect seen in the freshman class suggests that if introduced early in the curriculum students may be more likely to accept the technology and use it to their advantage.
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