Student attitudes towards biology in an introductory biology course at a two-year, open access college

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Amy Beumer


One of the goals of educating future biologists is to help students progress their thinking and attitudes towards that of an expert biologist. This mentality can include attitudes towards intellectual skills, such as problem-solving abilities, reasoning, as well as a depth of understanding in biology. It also means focusing on other attitudes towards science, such as enjoyment and the connection of biology to the real world. The purpose of this research was to determine whether student attitudes in a first-year biology majors’ course at a two-year, open access college with relatively small classes matched those at four-year schools, both initially and in changes over a one semester introductory biology course. Additionally, gender and instruction effects on attitudes were explored. The Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey for biology (CLASS-Bio) instrument was used to assess attitudes both pre and post-instruction. Comparable to other institutions, sixty-six percent of the unpaired students responded pre-instruction with expert-like views.  There was no statistically significant shift in expert views from pre to post-instruction, overall or in individual categories. This was true when comparing instruction types between modified team-based learning pedagogy and other active learning strategies. It was also true when comparing gender; however, there was some suggestion that females, but not males, (difference >1 SEM) may shift to less expert views over the semester overall as well as in the categories of enjoyment, real world connection, reasoning, and problem solving.

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