Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Using student motivation to design groups in a non-majors biology course for team-based collaborative learning: Impacts on knowledge, views, attitudes, and perceptions
by Walters, Kristi L., M.S., East Carolina University, 2014, 181; 1565005
Abstract (Summary)

The importance of student motivation and its connection to other learning variables (i.e., attitudes, knowledge, persistence, attendance) is well established. Collaborative work at the undergraduate level has been recognized as a valuable tool in large courses. However, motivation and collaborative group work have rarely been combined. This project utilized student motivation to learn biology to place non-major biology undergraduates in collaborative learning groups at East Carolina University, a mid-sized southeastern American university, to determine the effects of this construct on student learning. A pre-test measuring motivation to learn biology, attitudes toward biology, perceptions of biology and biologists, views of science, and content knowledge was administered. A similar post-test followed as part of the final exam. Two sections of the same introductory biology course (n = 312) were used and students were divided into homogeneous and heterogeneous groups (based on their motivation score). The heterogeneous groups (n = 32) consisted of a mixture of different motivation levels, while the homogeneous groups (n = 32) were organized into teams with similar motivation scores using tiers of high-, middle-, and low-level participants. Data analysis determined mixed perceptions of biology and biologists. These include the perceptions biology was less intriguing, less relevant, less practical, less ethical, and less understandable. Biologists were perceived as being neat and slightly intelligent, but not very altruistic, humane, ethical, logical, honest, or moral. Content knowledge scores more than doubled from pre- to post-test. Half of the items measuring views of science were not statistically significantly different from pre- to post-test. Many of the factors for attitudes toward biology became more agreeable from pre- to post-test. Correlations between motivation scores, participation levels, attendance rates, and final course grades were examined at both the individual and group level. Motivation had low correlations with the other variables. Changes in group membership (i.e., attrition) were evaluated at the group level and showed the highest rates with the heterogeneous groups and the lowest with the homogeneous middle groups. Group gender ratios were examined, but showed no correlation with final course grade. Linear regression was utilized to identify any variables that might be useful in predicting the final course grade of each student. Only participation, attendance, and final exam grade were predictive, but as they were components of the final course grade, they were not useful for the model. Differences between the groups were also examined to determine if the group type was predictive of final course grade, but no significant difference was found. Results of the study are discussed in the context of the literature on student motivation to learn science. Implications of the study are discussed through the lens of the Millennial generation's perspectives on teaching and learning. Millennials often consider an education to be a commodity and may expect results with less effort. Millennials may be expressing a pseudo-intrinsic motivation in order to impress peers and instructors, while they may actually be more extrinsically motivated to succeed

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gardner, Grant E.
Commitee: Crawley, Frank, Goodwillie, Carol, Jolls, Claudia L.
School: East Carolina University
Department: Biology
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: MAI 53/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Science education
Keywords: Biology courses, Collaborative learning, Motivation, Non-majors, Team-based learning, Undergraduates
Publication Number: 1565005
ISBN: 978-1-321-18920-9
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