Aligning active learning teaching with active learning assessment: More accurate measures of student learning and mitigating the achievement gap
Monday 3:00pm Ritchie Hall: 366
Oral Session Part of Monday A: Course Development to Engage your Students
Hannah Aird, California State University-Chico
Rachel Teasdale, California State University-Chico
The degree to which student learning experiences and course assessments are both activity-based has a big impact on student performance in introductory geoscience courses newly revised at California State University, Chico. Recent work has revealed that students who learn material through activities (rather than lecture or course readings), perform better when assessed using questions that ask them to use the same activity methods than when asked questions that cover the same material in ways that require simple recall of information. For example, students learned about landslide hazards by characterizing the susceptibility factors of different areas in California. On a subsequent exam, only 21% of students correctly answered a multiple choice question that asked them to identify the factors that caused landslides, but in another multiple choice question 92.9% of students correctly identified the landslide susceptibility of a previously unstudied location. Most of the students in the same courses correctly answered three short answer questions regarding the factors that increase the vulnerability to landslides (79%), the impacts of landslides on a community (82%) and mitigation or adaptation strategies to reduce risk of landslides (66%). Questions on different course topics gave similar results. Analysis of the same student exams revealed that first generation students performed slightly worse than their non-first-generation peers when the activity-level of in class activities and assessments were not aligned. However, when the learning experiences and assessments were both activity-based, performance increased for both groups, and in all cases, first generation students' scores were equivalent or in some cases better than their peers. This work suggests that both multiple choice and short answer questions can successfully measure student learning, but that the activity-style of assessment questions can have a big impact on student performance.