Evaluation of the Impact of an Active-Learning Introductory Gemology Studio Course on Community College Students

Friday, 19 December 2014
Vazgen Shekoyan and Roland Scal, Queensborough Community College, Bayside, NY, United States
A new active learning introductory gemology studio course with a lab component has been created at Queensborough Community College with the support of NSF TUES grant. Various pedagogical techniques that have shown efficacy at 4-year colleges have been implemented and adopted to improve student learning and course retention as well as to stimulate their interest in science and in STEM careers. The course covered broad range of STEM topics central to the gemology curriculum, including concepts from geology, mineralogy, physics and chemistry. Lectures and labs were linked. Students’ misconceptions were addressed via guided laboratory activities in a studio-learning environment. The course used peer-based learning and problem solving by creating student groups that discussed observations and measurements. Discussion groups were required to observe, synthesize, and evaluate data for presentations. The goal was to empower student learning and peer-based teaching and to recruit early career, often non-STEM students, to earth science. Students were often prompted to engage in self-reflections on their learning. In this presentation we will present the analysis of the evaluation of the course and its impact on community college students. Some of the evaluation tools we have used are pre- and post- knowledge surveys, science attitude and belief surveys as well as a Geological Interest instrument. Parallel sections of traditionally taught lecture-only courses (taught by the same instructor) were utilized as a control group in the analysis. The pedagogical implications of the analysis on instruction and course design will be discussed as well.