CYR, R.J.; WOODWARD, D.M.; Penn State; Penn State: Assessing Undergraduate Learning in a Large Web-Based Biology Course

A balanced, multi-variant experimental design was used to test the hypothesis that interactive web-based tutorials can replace traditional introductory biology lectures in a large, 800-student course. Student performance on multiple-choice exams was comparable between lecture- and web-learners and many students learning via web-based tutorials spent less time achieving the same academic performance as did their traditional lecture-attending counterparts. We conclude that web-based instructional tools can significantly improve education by increasing learning efficiency and by providing a more personalized experience to the student. Additionally, these data compel us to conclude that traditional lecture-based courses may be relics that no longer meet the needs of high enrollment, introductory biology courses. This conclusion is in agreement with current reform efforts in science education that have criticized traditional lecture-based classrooms while advocating more innovative uses of classtime.