GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 311-3
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


COLOSIMO, Amanda, Chemistry and Geosciences, Monroe Community College, 1000 E. Henrietta Rd, Rochester, NY 14623,

In the summer of 2015, participants of a week-long, intensive professional development workshop received stipends to redesign an existing course using strategies developed by L. Dee Fink. Fink recommends a more intentional approach to course design, beginning with the identification of learning outcomes for each course module, which include foundational knowledge, application of knowledge, integration of concepts, development of the individual, metacognition, and clarifying the connection between a discipline and people. Next, active learning strategies are developed to teach outcomes, followed by the creation of regular formative and summative assessments to measure learning. During the workshop, participants engaged in a variety of active learning techniques in morning sessions, followed by daily meetings with facilitators and dedicated time for course redesign. Faculty members continued to meet monthly in the fall of 2015 to discuss challenges and implement strategies.

Eight semesters of data from a redesigned section of Physical Geology with class sizes up to 45 were analyzed, including four semesters that preceded course redesign and the four that followed. Data indicates that the rate at which students withdrew or failed (W/F) the course decreased from 21% to 9%. The rate at which students of color withdrew from or failed Physical Geology also declined from 38.9% to 20.8%. Prior to course redesign, female student W/F rate was 21.7%. In the four semesters following course redesign, no females withdrew or failed the course. This data was shown to be statistically significant (p < 0.01). Further analysis of data for students of color showed little change in the W/F rate for males, but an elimination of W/F grades for female students of color. However, the sample size for students of color was too small to be considered valid.

The results not only support existing literature on the benefits of active learning, particularly for groups underrepresented in STEM disciplines, but also illustrate the need for faculty to have support and time to focus on meaningful course design.

  • ColosimoGSA2017.pptx (5.5 MB)