Enhancing student engagement with biological

Report
Enhancing student engagement with
biological psychology through assessment
and feedback
Dr Lucy Annett
Dr Sue Anthony and Dr Stefanie Schmeer
School of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire
aim: to improve experience of learning biological
psychology and module outcomes
• use regular, small coursework assessments to encourage
engagement and guide learning
• based on ideas from previous LTI conferences and seminars
• and successful statistics “homeworks” for first year
Psychology BSc students as used by Bruce Hajilou
• supported by Learning and Teaching strategic priority
enhancement award
‘constructive alignment’
• mindful of importance of alignment of coursework tasks
with learning outcomes (Biggs and Tang, 1999)
“ … what the student does is actually more
important in determining what is learned than what the
teacher does” (Thomas J Shuell, 1986)
• use coursework to guide students as to what they should be
studying each week, encouraging good habit of regular study
two modules Psychology BSc (same cohort):
Biological Psychology 1
exam 80%
Semester B 2009-10
coursework 20%
Biological Psychology 2
(previously essay and mid-term test)
Semester A 2010-11
(previously exam 100%) introduced exam 80%
coursework 20%
• subject considered “hard”, poor attendance at lectures
and poor exam performance
Biological Psychology 1
310 students
• redesigned content to introduce interesting examples in first
year topics (“wow” factor, often involving effects of brain damage)
• additional web resources, especially YOU TUBES clips
• lecture activities – brain models
• two coursework assignments and StudyNet quizzes most weeks
• introduced MCQs for 50% of exam, plus two written answers
Biological Psychology 2
220 students
• same topics as previous year, but additional web resources
• one written coursework task summarizing an article
• StudyNet quizzes most weeks
• introduced MCQs for 50% of exam, plus one written answer
Biological Psychology 1
DMD
“Have knowledge and understanding of the basic terminology of
biological psychology … basic brain anatomy… physiology of
brain cells, neurotransmission”
• hurdle of new terms to be learnt
• task for constructive alignment, do something active to learn
terms, look them up, decide on definition
 create a glossary
• given list of 36 terms encountered in first 3 lectures, e.g. corpus
callosum, grey matter, frontal lobe, vesicle, indirect agonist
• create definitions in no more than 25 words
• student feedback, very useful task
• BUT quick marking turn around not practical
Biological Psychology 1
• aim to generate interest in brain topics relevant to psychology
• constructive alignment: find out about potential topics, choose
one of interest, discuss this with other students doing the
course, working in groups of 2-3 prepare a presentation
explaining the topic to the general public
 produce an electronic “leaflet” on chosen topic
• assessment criteria: to include mention of brain function (2%), clarity of
explanations in text (1%), overall layout and look (1%), one scientific
reference (1%), useful web site (1%)
• also a competition – student vote on best submissions
• popular task, BUT not quick marking turn around
StudyNet quizzes
• automated marking for rapid turn round
• require students to think about lecture content, read text book,
answer questions on key points
• quiz set up in advance and opened for submission immediately
after lecture, to be completed before next lecture
• only first attempt before the deadline counts for assessment
• best 5/7 quiz scores used to allow for occasional missed quiz
• simple to download excel results file and enter to class list
• rapid feedback to students to see how their scores compare
with the rest of the group
StudyNet quizzes
• MCQs delivered by StudyNet quizzes used for summative
assessment (despite StudyNet warning quizzes not designed for this)
• but not timed test, can be done anywhere anytime
• student collaboration? - no different from other coursework in
this respect, good if students discuss answers
• will students work for only 2% coursework per quiz? – yes
• will all get 100% correct since can look up answers? – no
• well received by students, seen as useful “revision” for exam
• potential to identify early on those students not coping with
what should be a straightforward task
Biological Psychology 2: 58% failure rate those who did not submit
one of first two quizzes, average exam grade only 40%
Do you use multiple choice questions (MCQs)
for formative or summative assessments in any
of your teaching?
1
1. Yes
2. No
0
1
2
MCQs may be useful for testing knowledge of
facts but not for assessing deeper understanding
1
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Strongly Agree
Agree
Neutral
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
0
1
0
0
0
2
3
4
5
“Multiple Choice Questions may be useful for testing
knowledge of facts but not for assessing deeper understanding”
• depends on the question: possible to set challenging questions
that do assess deeper understanding (although takes longer to
write these)
• important, set questions for the purpose of reminding students
of the main points you would want them remember about this
topic
• if questions asked about trivia will remember trivia
examples of low level and “deeper” questions:
The “Law of Effect” was proposed by
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Pavlov
Tolman
Watson
Skinner
Thorndike
1
0
1
0
0
0
2
3
4
5
The Law of Effect is an example of _____________
conditioning and suggests we ________ assume
that animals anticipate the consequences of their
actions
1
1.
2.
3.
4.
classical; can
classical; cannot
instrumental; can
instrumental; cannot
0
1
0
0
2
3
4
A person with a ‘split brain’ shown the word
book in the left visual field and the word case in
the right visual field would…
1
1. say bookcase
2. point to the book
and say case
3. point to the case
and say book
4. point to the
bookcase
0
1
0
2
3
0
4
Multiple Choice Questions
• can be challenging and used to require students to think about
and manipulate information
• not necessarily “easier” than written answers
BioPsy2 average: written answers 48.2%, exam MCQs 45.5%
• correlation of MCQ with written answer grades for the exam
BioPsy1: r = 0.657
BioPsy2: r = 0.590
P<0.01
• case of student whose written answers were “copied” from the
lecture slides, failed MCQ exam questions
• feedback from students positive about quizzes, MCQs and
modules generally
Student 1
“Personally, I found the multiple-choice questions to be really
good… challenging and required you to think but made sure you
revised most/all of the course …. they make you search for the
actual purpose of things… you get a better idea of how everything
slots together”
Student 2
The coursework quizzes “…are really good for this sort of module
where a lot of ground is covered and a high level of vocabulary is
learnt every week. It makes you revise week on week and actually
contributes to a percentage of the grade.”
Student 3
“I think it was a completely brilliant idea because with the miniquizzes I thought they were really, really good because every week
you were doing a bit of coursework but you never had that sort of
fear of whole essay to do and with the quizzes you always have to
look back, so you are remembering things you forgot and learning
new things to do the quizzes and each week you knew say if you
got a bad mark in the first one, you would have to make it up and
it sort of took the pressure off a little bit.”
• podcasts of lectures also provided for Biological Psychology
2 during revision period – very popular
BUT
• exam outcomes did not match the enthusiasm from the
feedback – grades not much improved
BioPsy1 grades improved slightly to match, or slightly better
than, other first year modules taken the same semester
BioPsy2 grades similar to previous year, still low 48%
• explore data to investigate high failure rate
• low scores for those not engaging fully with the coursework
- missing one of the first two coursework tasks a good predictor of
poor exam performance later, difference of 10% in average grade
• less about lecture material per se, more about good habits
working through the semester rather than “revision” at end
• target support for those who do not engage early on
Thank you
• Amy Murphy and Dawn Grant for finding web materials
and marking glossaries
• Dawn Grant for focus group and interviews
• LTI award for funding Amy and Dawn
• Biological Psychology 1 and 2 students for responding to
requests for student views on the modules, especially
regarding the coursework

similar documents