Case Study with Ken Miller – MyCourses: Delivering content for a class of 350 students

Ken Miller

Prof. Ken Miller

Professor of Biology
BIOL 0200
The Foundation of Living Systems
Spring 2009
Objectives
This course used the MyCourses site in order to allow students unlimited access to lecture materials, to present weekly readings and assignments in an organized fashion and to expedite the grading process.
Outcomes
Student performance on our exams was quite good, and student feedback was excellent. Students appreciated the ability to download and study the powerpoint slides used in class, as well as the open nature of the discussion groups. As a result of recording homework grades and lab attendance directly on the MyCourses pages, our Teaching Assistants were able to interact much more directly with their students during the week between labs.
Methods
A highly-structured MyCourses website, with the following features:

  • Folders for each week of the semester, containing reading assignments, homework, review material, and web links to simulations and interactive demonstrations of biological principles.
  • A complete reference folder with exams and answer keys from previous years of the course, helping students to understand the instructors’ expectations and goals.
  • Daily postings of all slides and videos used in lectures.
  • A lively interactive Discussion group to voice student concerns and current issues in biology.
  • Links to online virtual laboratories keyed to actual lab exercises in the course.
  • A Human Genome “scavenger hunt,” organized through the web site, allowing students to search genome databases for specific genes and DNA sequences.
  • Online videos, readings, and guides to course material.
  • A gradebook allowing individual students to check their own homework scores and laboratory attendance records.

Recommendations

Professors should take into account that the regular posting of slides and other course material made it easier for students to rationalize not coming to lectures. Despite this concern, however, lecture attendance did not noticeably suffer.

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