An evaluation of web enhanced instruction in college level biology courses
AbstractWebsites that accompany science courses typically aim to provide easy access to learning materials, and to facilitate student-instructor communication. We tested whether these aims were achieved in two web enhanced, lower division undergraduate biology courses in an Israeli college. We collected data on the students' attitudes through pre- and post-course questionnaires, monitored their usage of the course websites, and related these data to the students' final course grades.
The students (n=96) accessed the websites frequently and regularly, and regarded them as important sources of information. About 47% of the students reported an increased level of general interest in the courses due to the websites. Students mainly downloaded lecture slides and exercise forms from the websites, but did not use the sites to communicate among themselves, or with the instructor. Final course grades were not correlated with the frequency of usage of the website. Female students had a more positive pre-course attitude towards the websites as compared with male students. However, there was no difference between men and women in usage of the course websites, and in achievement levels.
We conclude that the website component of the courses in our study facilitated delivery of learning materials and individual study, but not the social aspects of learning. We suggest that effective design of web enhanced courses can overcome this limitation by stressing social interactions and group learning during face to face sessions.
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