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VOLUME 5 TEACHING ISSUES AND EXPERIMENTS IN ECOLOGY
RESEARCH

Evaluating the Impact of TIEE Activities on Student Learning: Lessons for the Instructor

AUTHOR

Jaclyn Schnurr 1

1 - Biological and Chemical Sciences, Wells College, Aurora, New York 13026 (jschnurr@wells.edu)

ABSTRACT

As part of a larger research study on the effectiveness of Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE) on student learning, I assessed the use of TIEE activities to increase student ability to use scientific methodology in conducting ecological studies, as well as to increase understanding of basic ecological concepts. To do so I used note card activities to gain more insight into student misconceptions, plus TIEE exercises, such as turn-to-your-neighbor and jigsaw activities during lecture and experiments in lab, to engage students. This study was conducted in Fall 2005 with 18 students in a sophomore level ecology course at Wells College, NY. Although students performed similarly on an 8 item instructor developed pre- and post-test (t=-1.21, P= 0.23), there were some qualitative improvements on open- answer questions. In the post test, 72% of the students had a better answer for What is ecology? and 33% had a better explanation for What is science?. Similarly, 43% were better able to create and interpret a graph, and 33% could better detect a flaw in experimental design. Using responses from final reflective essays, 58% of students volunteered that outdoor labs (mainly using TIEE experiments) were the most effective part of the course. However, I believe that the real value of this study was using the TIEE activities, which gave me confidence to utilize new teaching methods in the classroom.


KEY WORDS

student active learning, Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE), reflective essays, ecology education

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I'd like to thank the Wells College biology students, especially those in the Fall 2005 Biol 213: Ecology and Evolution course, and my undergraduate teaching assistant Krystle Bouchard. The manuscript was much improved by comments by 2 anonymous reviewers, Charlene D'Avanzo, and Jennifer Riem. TIEE is supported through several grants from the National Science Foundation (DUE 0127388, DUE 0443714, and DUE 9952347.)

CITATION

Jaclyn Schnurr. June 2007, posting date. Evaluating the Impact of TIEE Activities on Student Learning: Lessons for the Instructor. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 5: Research #5 [online]. http://tiee.ecoed.net/vol/v5/research/schnurr/abstract.html