Do students learn more if they have pre, in-class, and post assessments? The answer is yes according to the latest work led by Dr. Shaffer, a teaching professor in the Department of Chemical and Biology Engineering Colorado School of Mines (click here for his faculty website). Dr. Shaffer's educational research highlights the importance of course-structure in large-enrollment Biology and Engineering courses. This follows-- when students interact with course material more and more, they do better in the course. Dr. Shaffer came all the way from Colorado to give a seminar to ROSE about this research. But that's not all his team has found. Specifically, when they investigated the use of optional reading guides, which are designed to supplement textbook readings, they noticed the more often students used reading guides the better they did in the course. (In fact-- this research has led our own Dr. Sami Raut to implement optional reading guides in her courses at UAB!) Dr. Shaffer went on to talk about his recent work that contrasts engineering and biology perceptions about math. Turns out, in his student population, engineering majors were more likely to have negative attitudes about biology but positive attitudes about math and biology majors were more likely to have negative views on math. These insights about course-structure and other student attitudes were a big hit by the 40 or so attendees.
"After teaching many years, improvements are harder to come by from your own mind. You get tapped out. Going to [ROSE] meetings gives me new ideas about what works that I can use in my classes to continue to improve. These short [ROSE] meetings are perfect for a busy professor, " said Dr. Robin Foley, UAB Associate professor in Engineering, who attended Dr. Shaffer's talk. In response to Dr. Shaffer's results, Dr. Foley noted, "Got several ideas to try in my class with too many students!"
Dr. Shaffer presents his work to the UAB ROSE community.