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Identifying the optimal course delivery platform in an undergraduate animal behavior research course †,2 † ‡ § Danielle M. Arnold, Christopher J. Mortensen, Andrew C. Thoron, Jon K. Miot, and Emily K. Miller-Cushon † ‡ Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611; Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611; and Santa Fe Teaching Zoo, Zoo Animal Technology Program, Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL, 32606 ABSTRACT: There is a critical need to evaluate compared with traditional. For students at the Santa pedagogical delivery platforms best suited for under- Fe College, quiz grades (P = 0.71) did not differ, but graduates in the information age. Our goal was to assignment (P < 0.001), report (P = 0.003), and poster identify the optimum course delivery platform for a (P < 0.001) grades were higher in the flipped and basic research course based on student performance traditional format of the course. Within the flipped and critical thinking scores. Students were expected format at the University of Florida, student CCTT to plan, conduct, and report on an animal behavior scores increased (P < 0.001) between pre- and posttest, research project of their own design. The course was whereas the scores within the other formats did not taught in three different formats: traditional, online, differ. When we compared the magnitude of change and flipped, over 2 yr by the same instructor at both between pre- and posttest scores across formats, stu- the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. dents at the University of Florida in the flipped for - Student assessments included weekly quizzes, assign- mat tended (P = 0.060) to have a greater gain than ments, a written report, a poster presentation, and students in the online format. For students at Santa attendance. We conducted pre- and postassessments Fe College, there was no difference between pre- and using the Cornell Critical Thinking Test (CCTT). posttest CCTT scores for any format, and the mag- Students’ grades differed depending on format deliv- nitude of change in scores did not differ between for- ery and were also different between University of mats. Overall, our results suggest that teaching format Florida and Santa Fe College students. For students influences student grades and critical thinking scores. at the University of Florida, quiz grades and poster Different effects were seen in different student popula- grades did not differ (P < 0.50) between formats. tions; however, positive effects of the flipped format on However, assignment grades (P = 0.04) and report student grades were seen at both institutions. In con- grades (P < 0.001) differed by format and were higher clusion, flipped format courses may improve learning in the flipped and online-only version of the course, and critical thinking in an early research-based course. Key words: animal behavior, critical thinking, flipped classroom, research, undergraduate education © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact email@example.com Transl. Anim. Sci. 2018.2:311–318 doi: 10.1093/tas/txy066 1 2 This research was funded by the National Science Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org Foundation. Division of Undergraduate Education. Award Received May 1, 2018. number: 1503322 Accepted June 4, 2018. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/311/5033842 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 312 Arnold et al. INTRODUCTION (Gainesville). The course was a one-credit elective offered for 2 yr at both the University of Florida The population of students currently enrolled and Santa Fe College (from the Spring semes- in postsecondary educational institutions is diverse ter of 2016 until the Fall semester of 2017). At and radically changing how they think and learn the University of Florida, the course was taught (Prensky, 2001, 2005). Traditional education sys- through the Department of Animal Sciences and tems have focused on compartmentalized learning offered to first and second year students interested where students are expected to learn at the same in learning more about the scientific method. rate as their peers. Suggested “Information Age” There were a total of 178 students enrolled in approaches focus on learner-centered education the Wild Discoveries course from the University and meeting individual learner needs (Watson and of Florida and a total of 58 students enrolled Reigeluth, 2008). Active learning has been sug- from Santa Fe College over the 2 yr the course gested for teaching today’s students, focusing on was offered. Student data collection also included inquiry-based learning (Prince, 2004; McLaughlin gender. Data collection methods were approved et al., 2014). Three primary teaching approaches through the University of Florida Institutional exist today in higher education: traditional, online, Review Board. and the emerging flipped format, an active, learn - er-centered approach where students watch lec- Course Structure tures online and participate in learning activities during class time. This approach has been shown The Wild Discoveries course was a basic under- to improve student satisfaction, engagement, graduate research course designed to guide students and course grades over traditional approaches through the scientific method while they conducted (Critz and knight, 2013; McLaughlin et al., 2013; their own research projects from start to finish. Mortensen and Nicholson, 2015). However, oth- Animal behavior was chosen as a focal topic for this ers have reported some negative student feedback course, due to the large portion of animal science related to reduced in-person lecture time in flipped and zoo animal program students in our student classes (Wilson, 2013; Missildine et al., 2013), population and their noted interests. Students were suggesting that success of different formats may expected to plan, conduct, and report on an ani- depend on course subject. mal behavior research project of their own design. There is evidence that the United States is fall- Students assessed animal behavior of either domes- ing behind other countries in science education tic or exotic species via either live observation or (Provasnik et al., 2009), suggesting a need to refine online web cameras. Besides learning the scientific teaching methods for inquiry- and research-based method, the course presented information on top- courses. Our objectives were to evaluate the effects ics including basic principles of animal behavior of delivery formats of a research-based course on and ethical issues such as plagiarism and protocols student learning outcomes and critical thinking, at for using animal and human subjects in research. both a state university and a community college. To investigate the influence of course delivery We hypothesized that students participating in format, the course was offered according to three the flipped class would show improved outcomes different delivery formats: traditional, online, or and critical thinking, compared with a traditional flipped. At the University of Florida, the course lecture or asynchronous online-only format, and was offered in the traditional format once and that effects of different delivery formats may dif- the flipped and online formats twice. At Santa Fe fer between university and college-level student College, the course was offered in the traditional populations. and flipped formats twice and the online format once. Student enrollment numbers by format and MATERIALS AND METHODS semester are described in Table 1. The delivery method alternated between formats in consecutive semesters at both schools, dictating how material Student Population and assessments were presented (Table 2). The same instructor taught the course in all formats at This study investigated students’ learn- both schools. In the traditional course, class time ing achievements through a research-based consisted of a weekly 50-min period on campus, course, “Wild Discoveries: Zooming into the with material delivered using PowerPoint lectures Scientific Method,” offered at the University of and quizzes. Assignments and group work were Florida (Gainesville, FL) and Santa Fe College Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/311/5033842 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 Course delivery in research courses 313 Table 1. Total student enrollment numbers in each of the three delivery formats and the number of semesters each format was offered at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College University of Florida* Santa Fe College No. of semesters No. of students No. of semesters No. of students Traditional 1 55 2 29 Online 2 40 1 12 Flipped 2 83 2 17 Total 5 178 5 58 *Gender data for University of Florida students: traditional (n = 6 male, n = 49 female), online (n = 11 male, n = 29 female), flipped ( n = 21 male, n = 62 female). Gender data for Santa Fe College students: traditional (n = 4 male, n = 25 female), online (n = 1 male, n = 11 female), flipped ( n = 5 male, n = 12 female). Table 2. Location student assessments were to be completed within each of the three different delivery platforms Delivery platform Traditional Online Flipped Assessment In class Online/home In class Online/home In class Online/home Lectures ✓ ✓ ✓ Quizzes ✓ ✓ ✓ Assignments ✓ ✓ ✓* ✓* Group Work ✓ ✓ ✓* ✓* *In the flipped format, assignments and group work were completed both within class time and on students’ own time. completed on the students’ own time outside of the within each module. As well, each module included class period. In the asynchronous online course, access to quizzes, assignments, and group discus- students were expected to watch video lectures, sion boards. complete quizzes and assignments, and participate in group work online independently. The flipped Student Assessments and Outcomes course included both an asynchronous online com- ponent and an in-class face-to-face component. For each of these delivery formats, student Students were expected to watch online lectures assessments remained consistent. Course assess- and complete weekly online quizzes. Furthermore, ment was based on weekly quizzes, weekly assign- students were expected to complete minimal ments, a final written report, a poster presentation assignments and group work online. In addition of their project, and class attendance. The final to the online component, students were expected grade out of 540 points was calculated based on 120 to attend a 50-min face-to-face class period on points from quizzes and assignments, 100 points campus each week. This class time was used to from the written report, 50 points from the poster reinforce topics from the previous online lectures presentation, and 150 points from attendance. and answer any questions the students may have There were 12 weekly quizzes. Quiz questions had from the weekly online material (i.e., quizzes, consisted of multiple choice, true and false, and assignments, and group work). Students were also matching. There were 12 weekly homework assign- allowed to work on their homework assignments ments, which included practice with animal behav- or discuss their research with group members dur- ior observations, creating and assessing ethograms, ing the face-to-face class time. The online lectures data analysis practice, and identifying science pro- provided through the online and flipped deliv - ject misconducts. Drafts of each of the required ery formats were prerecorded at the University of components of the research report were submitted Florida Center for Instructional Technology and as well. Training (CITT) using Mediasite (Sonic Foundry, In each format, students were required to com- Madison, WI). plete a semester long research project on the topic Lectures and material were divided into 14 mod- of animal behavior. They were divided into small ules using the online Canvas system (E-learning) groups of four to five students and were asked to with learning objectives and reminders for students complete the following task: develop a research Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/311/5033842 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 314 Arnold et al. plan, complete a literature review, develop a hypoth- All values reported are least squares means. esis, conduct animal behavior observations, analyze Significance was declared at P ≤ 0.05, and trends and interpret their findings, write a report on their reported at 0.05 < P ≤ 0.10. project, and present their information in a poster format. Animal behavior research was conducted RESULTS on their own time for each of the three formats. The Wild Discoveries course was offered for Attendance was recorded for all delivery for- five semesters at both the University of Florida and mats. For the traditional and flipped formats, Santa Fe College from Spring 2016 to Fall 2017. weekly attendance was taken during class time. Descriptive data for student attendance by format For the online format, attendance was measured and semester are shown in Table 3. through participation in weekly online discussions. Effects of course delivery format on stu- To evaluate the effect of course delivery format dent assessments are presented in Table 4. At the on critical thinking, students were evaluated vol- University of Florida, there were no differences untarily using the Cornell Critical Thinking Test between formats for quiz grades, but grades dif- (CCTT), level X. This was administered on the first fered by gender, with female students (n = 140) day of class and the final day of class. having higher grades than males (n = 38; 85.7% Finally, student course evaluations were vs. 81.2%; P = 0.032), with no interaction between obtained from the University of Florida students format and gender (P = 0.31). Assignment grades at the end of each semester. Students rated a series from the University of Florida students differed of criteria on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being poor across formats, with lower grades in the traditional and 5 being excellent. We summarized descriptive format compared with the flipped format, and statistics for outcomes for three key criteria: com- students in the online format having intermediate munication of ideas and information, stimulation grades. Female students also had higher assignment of interest in course, and facilitation of learning. grades (92.8% vs. 88.8%; P = 0.02), with no interac- tion between format and gender (P = 0.99). Finally, Statistical Analysis there was a difference between formats for report grades at the University of Florida, with lower Student outcome data were summarized by stu- grades in the traditional format compared with dent for each form of assessment (quizzes, assign- the flipped and online formats, and no difference ments, report, and poster). CCTT scores (pre and between the flipped and online formats. Report post) were included for analysis if both pre- and grades did not differ by gender (P = 0.50). Poster posttest scores were completed by the student grades were similar across formats but were subject (complete data sets at University of Florida: 69 to a gender by format interaction (P = 0.039): in for flipped, 51 for traditional, 9 for online; at Santa the flipped format, female students ( n = 62) have Fe College: 16 for flipped, 8 for traditional, 11 for higher grades than males (n = 21; 95.1% vs. 91.6%; online). Data were analyzed separately by school. P = 0.030) and no effect of gender in other formats The effects of course delivery format on student (P > 0.96). outcomes were analyzed using PROC MIXED in The Santa Fe College students had similar quiz SAS (v. 9.4, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). The grades across formats, but all other assessment model included the fixed effects of format and grades differed by format (Table 4). Assignment, the random effect of student. For data subject to report, and poster grades were lower in the online a significant effect of format, the Tukey–Kramer format compared with the traditional and flipped adjustment was used in testing for pairwise differ- ences between formats. For analysis of data from University of Florida where enrollment was higher, Table 3. Student attendance (mean ± SD) from gender and the interaction between gender and for- each semester that Wild Discoveries were offered at mat were included in the model as fixed effects. the University of Florida and Santa Fe College We evaluated the changes between pre- and Format posttest CCTT scores within each teaching for- mat using a paired t-test. We also evaluated the Semester Traditional Online Flipped effect of format on changes in CCTT scores using University of Florida (2016) 97.5 ± 15.5 94.3 ± 14.8 94.2 ± 23.4 University of Florida (2017) — 98.4 ± 12.5 94.5 ± 22.6 the MIXED procedure of SAS, in a model that Santa Fe College (2016) 93.3 ± 25.0 81.1 ± 40.5 98.1 ± 5.1 included format as a fixed effect and pretest scores Santa Fe College (2017) 98.1 ± 23.2 — 97.2 ± 16.6 as a covariate. Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/311/5033842 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 Course delivery in research courses 315 Table 4. Student grades (mean ± SE) for categories of assessments (quizzes, assignments, reports, and posters) in traditional, online, and flipped class formats at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College Format Assessment Traditional Online Flipped SE P value University of Florida Quizzes 84.3 84.0 82.1 2.2 0.59 a ab b Assignments 88.3 90.9 93.2 1.8 0.04 a b b Report 89.3 96.1 95.6 0.79 <0.001 Poster 94.2 94.5 93.4 0.98 0.50 Santa Fe College Quizzes 74.5 71.3 77.2 5.5 0.71 a b a Assignments 95.4 61.2 91.2 2.5 <0.001 a b a Report 84.5 58.3 88.7 7.0 0.003 a b a Poster 91.4 58.3 92.4 6.3 <0.001 a,b Different superscripts denote significant differences between formats ( P < 0.05) for each assessment. formats, with no difference between traditional and Table 5. CCTT (level X) pre- and posttest scores flipped. of students* enrolled in traditional, online, and We evaluated both changes between pre- and flipped format at the University of Florida and posttest CCTT scores within each format and also Santa Fe College compared the magnitude of change in CCTT score CCTT across formats. Changes in student critical think- Assessment Pretest Posttest SE P value ing pre- and posttest scores within formats are University of Florida described in Table 5. At the University of Florida, Traditional 52.25 51.82 0.84 0.61 CCTT scores increased within the flipped format Online 43.89 46.78 1.63 0.11 (Table 5), whereas there was no difference between Flipped 48.74 52.28 0.94 <0.001 pre- and posttest scores within the traditional or Santa Fe College online format. At Santa Fe College, there was no Traditional 47.75 49.25 1.78 0.43 significant difference within pre- and posttest scores Online 43.64 46.36 2.37 0.28 within any format. We also found that the magni- Flipped 47.13 48.06 1.87 0.62 tude of change in CCTT scores tended to depend *University of Florida students: n = 69 for flipped, 51 for tradi - on format (P = 0.058); students enrolled in flipped tional, 9 for online; Santa Fe College students: n = 16 for flipped, 8 for format tended to have a greater increase in score traditional, 11 for online. compared with online format (P = 0.060), whereas Table 6. Faculty course evaluations* (mean ± SD) the magnitude of change in the CCTT score did not for key criteria of interest, summarized across all differ (P > 0.30) between flipped and traditional or semesters by format, from the University of Florida online and traditional. The descriptive summaries of student course Traditional Online Flipped evaluations from the University of Florida students 4.61 ± 0.73 4.47 ± 0.92 4.81 ± 0.45 Description of course are shown in Table 6. objectives and assignments Communication of ideas 4.61 ± 0.77 4.62 ± 0.56 4.76 ± 0.48 DISCUSSION and information Stimulation of interest in 4.64 ± 0.72 4.62 ± 0.56 4.90 ± 0.32 The aim of this study was to evaluate the best course delivery platform for an undergraduate animal Facilitation of learning 4.77 ± 0.60 4.62 ± 0.56 4.71 ± 0.60 behavior research-based course. As undergraduate Overall assessment of 4.72 ± 0.70 4.69 ± 0.54 4.92 ± 0.29 students are changing in how they think and pro- instructor cess information, it has been shown that a transfor- *Scores are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 = poor, 2 = below average, mation in pedagogical approaches is needed across 3 = average, 4 = above average, 5 = excellent. many different programs and majors (Prensky, 2001; Watson and Reigeluth, 2008; Benner et al., application of information, vs. passively relaying 2010; Velegol et al., 2015). This transformation facts to students (Benner et al., 2010). Active learn- includes more student-centered learning, focusing ing and inquiry-based learning have been found on critical thinking, inquiry-based learning, and to increase student engagement and learning, Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/311/5033842 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 316 Arnold et al. and when application of knowledge and material grades and achievement compared with the same is completed in class, teachers are available to be course taught in a traditional format (McLaughlin facilitators and aid in their learning (Prince, 2004; et al., 2014; Mortensen and Nicholson, 2015; Watson and Reigeluth, 2008; Chi, 2009). Peterson, 2016). However, empirical data on stu- In addition to ongoing challenges of adapt- dent learning and achievement between teach- ing course delivery platforms to meet the needs of ing formats are limited (O’Flaherty and Phillips, today’s science-focused students, we need to involve 2015). Some studies have shown that there are no undergraduates in research earlier in their collegi- differences in student grades or achievement when ate career. Therefore, the focal course for this study a course was taught in different formats (Galway was developed with the intended aim of involving et al., 2014; Harrington et al., 2015; Morgan et al., undergraduate students in the scientific method 2015). However, there has been limited previous and having students conduct their own research. comparison between all three delivery methods: We proposed that in completing a research pro- traditional, online, and flipped. ject of their own design, students would be fully A meta-analysis of K-12 education showed that exposed to the scientific method. blended learning, same as flipped format, was more A concern with the flipped format is the poten - effective than either face-to-face or online format tial for low class attendance if lecture information (Means et al., 2009). In a statistical literacy course, can be found online (Foldnes, 2017). Class attend- Gundlach et al. (2015) compared the efficacy of the ance is positively associated with academic achieve- three delivery formats taught within a single semes- ment in both traditional lecture-based classes ter and found that most results were very similar (Crede et al., 2010; Schneider and Preckel, 2017) between formats and showed no differences. The and the flipped classroom ( Foldnes, 2017). We only differences they found between formats were found no difference in student attendance between an increase in perceived easiness in traditional for- formats, which is consistent with previous findings mat vs. the online format (Gundlach et al., 2015). in flipped compared with traditional format classes Somenarain et al. (2010) evaluated different deliv- (Deslauriers et al., 2011; McLaughlin et al., 2014; ery formats in a medical terminology course and Mortensen and Nicholson, 2015). found no significant difference in course grades and The results from the University of Florida student satisfaction between the online and flipped students show that while format may not matter courses; however, it is important to note that each for some assessments, it was significantly differ - format was delivered by a different instructor. To ent in others. When there was a difference, in the our knowledge, the present study is the first to case of assignment and report grades, the flipped evaluate the efficacy of different delivery methods and online formats led to higher grades than the in a basic research-based course. Furthermore, traditional format. These results may suggest that the design of this study allowed assessing different these formats facilitate greater learning and are delivery methods over the course of multiple semes- best suited for first and second year students in ters, with consistency of instruction. an early-based research course. Both online and The format appeared to play a large role with flipped classes provided access to the same online the students from Santa Fe College, especially with lectures, which students could watch as many times regard to the online course. Overall, the online for- as needed on their own time. This may partially mat resulted in the lowest grades in all categories. explain why students performed better. Mortensen Feedback from students indicated the online for- and Nicholson (2015) found that students in a mat was the least preferred delivery mechanism. It flipped format class watched lectures multiple is possible that this may reflect differences in expec - times (e.g., 1.9 views/student for the first lecture of tations or previous experiences of students enrolled the course). The flipped format also provided more in smaller colleges. However, our limited enrollment time for students to interact with each other and of students in the online course offered at Sante the instructor during class meeting times. It has Fe College restricts our ability to generalize these been shown that when students are informed of the results. A study by Zavarella (2008), showed com- purpose of the flipped classroom and how it works pletion rates for a community college mathematics and why it is important, students are more engaged course were higher in traditional formats with 80% (Betihavas et al., 2016). completion vs. online courses with only 61% com- Our findings are consistent with numerous pletion. This study reported 70% of students in the other studies that have shown that courses taught online section withdrew because of problems asso- in the flipped format have shown improved student ciated with the online component of the course. Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/311/5033842 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 Course delivery in research courses 317 Another study on college-level students in an online no differences between the traditional and flipped course found that gender, academic readiness, and courses with regard to course evaluations (Simpson number of online courses enrolled had a signifi - and Richards, 2015). cant effect on how well students did (Aragon and Overall, our results suggest that teaching for- Johnson, 2008). Finally, Jaggars and Bailey (2010) mat can influence student grades and critical think - completed a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of ing scores whether at a 4-yr university or college. fully online courses for college students and suggest Our results demonstrated at the university level the that online learning may have negative effects on flipped and online formats led to higher grades than academically underprepared students. Our results the traditional format. These results may suggest are in agreement with Aragon and Johnson (2008) these formats better facilitate learning from this and Jaggars and Bailey (2010) that college-level stu- group of students. Furthermore, the results from dents may be unprepared for an online course. the CCTT increased in the flipped format com - Interestingly, we found some effects of gender pared with the other formats, suggesting that some on student grades at the University of Florida. 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Translational Animal Science – Oxford University Press
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