GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 183-3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


CHERMAK, John A., Virginia Tech Geosciences, 926 West Campus Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061-1040, FILER, Kimberly, Director and Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning, Center For Teaching and Learning, Virginia Tech, 3080C Torgerson Hall, 620 Drillfield Dr., Blacksburg, VA 24060 and BAUM, Liesl, Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives and Educational Research, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 3080C Torgerson Hall, 620 Drillfield Dr., Blacksburg, VA 24060

At VT “Earth Resources, Society and the Env” is taught with an avg class size of appx 125 students. One of the goals of this class is to help non-major students build the skills of a scientist by recognizing a sound argument and appropriate use of evidence and to analyze data and arguments in their daily life. This class has been transformed to incorporate active learning pedagogies which include think-pair share, student response systems, flipped material with subsequent small group discussions, and group projects with a poster presentation. Even with these active learning pedagogies numerous distractions to engagement and learning in the classroom were observed. These distractions were primarily student cell phone use and off-task computers. Students began to comment on their course evaluations that distractions were an issue. Students’ addiction to their devices is well documented (J. M. Twenge, 2017 and Qian and Li, 2017). A no electronics policy was fully implemented and “enforced” in Fall 2018. Significant changes in the student engagement and student learning data have been observed after this policy. The student learning and evaluation data in the class has been evaluated using the self-reported Student Assessment of their Learning Gains survey (SALG) and Student Perception of Teaching evaluations (SPOT).

The SALG surveys from 2016 through 2019 were used to measure students’ self-evaluation of their learning, which translates to the integration of information and skills acquired in the class. This survey used a 5-point scale of students’ perceived gains ranging from no gain (1) to great gains (5) (Seymour, et al., 2000). As an example of impact, the change in their understanding of climate change in 2016 as compared to 2019 (electronics policy) changed from 29% to 57% (great gain), 37% to 26% (good gain). Students showed an increase in gains for recognizing a sound argument and appropriate use of evidence (48% - 72% good/great). The levels which students are self-evaluating their improvement of their ability to integrate information by using a critical approach to analyzing data and arguments in their daily life showed an increase in gains as well (48% - 73% good/great).

The SPOT data for the class was also analyzed and unexpectedly had some encouraging results. The university uses - Overall, the instructor’s teaching was effective in the evaluation of teaching. The comparison from the 2016/2017 classes to the 2018/2019 classes of overall teaching performance shows an improvement on average of approximately 4.8 to 5.3.