Student Learning Outcomes and Experiences Associated with Student-Centered Redesign of a General Education Geology Course

Monday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms


Kelsey Bitting, Elon University
Alison Olcott Marshall, University of Kansas Main Campus
The University of Kansas has embarked upon an ambitious agenda for transforming introductory level courses with an emphasis on active learning in STEM disciplines. We present results and analysis of a redesigned general education geology course, "DNA to Dinosaurs: Prehistoric Life." We explore the redesign process as undertaken collaboratively by a faculty member and a teaching postdoctoral fellow for course redesign, and compare and contrast the design and teaching methods pre- (spring 2013) and post-redesign (fall 2014), including RTOP scores for the active version. We then present outcomes of the redesign by analyzing grade distributions for the class in both semesters, writing products produced by students according to rubrics designed to characterize written communication and critical thinking outcomes, and student comments about the course in each semester. Finally, we describe the implementation of a course-based undergraduate research project and the associated public student showcase event, and explore the university-wide impacts of this project and event on the faculty-level conversation about course redesign, assessment, and student learning. Ultimately, our outcomes clearly and firmly support decades of research asserting that active, student-centered courses and authentic learning opportunities inspired by real-world problems can provoke learning and engagement far beyond those of a traditional lecture-based course.