A new supplement for the microbiology text called Mastering Microbiology was recently released by the publisher. I had heard positive things about the Mastering Biology for BIO 181 (pre-req for micro) and decided to implement Mastering Micro in a like manner. For two semesters prior to utilizing Mastering, the average grade overall at the end of the semesters was 74.64% (n=73).Not a bad average but many students indicated they wanted practice and micro is very conceptual. I was not sure exactly what I wanted to see with my students other than overall increase in performance. I made the activities mandatory for 25 pts/semester. The data for two semesters utilizing Mastering resulted in an average of 74.24% (n=79). While I was hoping something miraculous would be apparent, I am 'seasoned' enough to know I may not actually be able to see any direct effect on grades. For each semester only 2-3 students did not do the activities. Several students indicated they appreciated the practice. I will continue using and adjusting it.
Bronwen, good action research cycle. And, I love that Estrella faculty is now having these "conversations" about what's working (or not) in our classes.
One thing - what "adjustments" are you planning on in the future? I'm curious . . .
I know, I wanted to explain but I ran out of room. Since the publisher prompts don't completely line up with what I want students to focus on I can go in and edit them. I am certain this will help alot. I want to do this and look at grades again but maybe focus on Unit 1 or the first exam to narrow the scope of the assessment to two things - success concerning what are the basic microbes and bacterial structure/function. Since the first exam is so 'traumatic' for them I would like to see if student performance can be improved for these subjects. I can also link an outcome to each activity. I did this for a couple but it takes so much time to set up. Then, I can use Mastering to provide data about successful mastering of the outcomes. I knew that looking at ending grades would probably not be very helpful but I thought I would start with the huge approach.
Bronwen, I still think this is a promising approach but obviously you are not seeing it in students' results yet. One idea I have is to make this more central to the classroom experience, in the spirit of the "flipped classroom" movement. Sure you'd give up time on the lecture, but of course those can be done on video, Khan Academy, etc. Maybe having you help students and students helping others students could be a key to success (broken up with mini-lectures by student-driven requests of course). What are your thoughts?