Meeting Abstract

46.1  Thursday, Jan. 5  Supplemental Instruction and Student Success in an Introductory Biology Course WALKER, SE*; MOON, HS; HOESE, WJ; BONSANGUE, MV; ZACHERL, DC; BURNAFORD, JL; READ, E; FILOWITZ, M; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Fullerton swalker@fullerton.edu

Improving student performance in introductory science and mathematics can lead to higher retention and graduation rates. We implemented a formal supplemental instruction (SI) program for the first course in the Biology major at California State University Fullerton starting in fall 2007. This course has the lowest pass rate of our introductory biology core classes, and even after successfully completing the course many students leave the major. Our SI program consists of one-hour sessions led by undergraduates who have done well in the course and apply to be in the program. The leaders undergo training and meet with the SI program coordinator weekly during the semester. Attendance is voluntary and students who come to a large percentage of SI sessions earn a small amount of extra credit (1 – 2 % of the total grade). We found that students attending SI scored higher on exams and were more likely to attain a C or greater in the course than non-attending students. To control for academic ability, High-School GPA or the student’s score on Lawson’s Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning were used as covariates to analyze student performance. Taking these into account, there were still strong positive effects of SI attendance on performance. In addition, SI had strong positive effects on underrepresented minority students. Although we have not controlled for student engagement, our data suggest that SI is an effective way to improve student performance in introductory biology.