3.4 Assessing undergraduate learning in introductory atmospheric science courses with blended active learning strategies

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 9:15 AM
Room 13AB (Austin Convention Center)
Larry J. Hopper Jr., Univ. of Louisiana, Monroe, LA

Engaging students and improving their content knowledge in introductory atmospheric science courses is critical to producing scientifically literate college graduates who will drive economic and policy decisions affecting future generations. Although numerous studies assessing student learning in online versus traditional face-to-face courses have been performed, relatively few have evaluated hybrid courses that “blend” traditional classroom instruction with online learning. This study's primary objective is to compare student performance and satisfaction in traditional face-to-face and blended sections of two different core curriculum courses covering introductory atmospheric science and severe weather over the past two years at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Vignettes of blended online activities with face-to-face lecture components utilizing a variety of active learning strategies that were incorporated into the courses are presented, including lessons on identifying cloud types, forecasting daily temperature and precipitation, and analyzing global climate change projections and the merits and limitations of mitigation policies.

Selected common exam questions and course evaluation items are used to assess and compare student learning and satisfaction in traditional and blended sections of both courses. Qualitative and quantitative survey items are also used to gather student feedback on whether they prefer traditional or blended courses and how engaged and challenged they perceive themselves to be in each. In addition, exam performance is also correlated with each student's academic history, learning styles (measured by the Felder-Soloman Index of Learning Styles), and goal orientations and motivations (measured by Elliot and Murayama's Achievement Goal Questionnaire) to investigate how these student differences may affect their preference for and learning outcomes in different course formats. Results from this pilot study may be used in making recommendations for best advising practices and incorporating new pedagogies and material into blended courses, benefitting students along with their advisors and instructors.

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