Evaluation of a curriculum model for the biological sciences

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Virginia Tech

A study to determine the effects of a new curriculum model for the biological sciences based on practical application of material, student research, and professional activities, all designed to promote student interest and involvement in course content, was initiated as a supplement to an existing introductory agronomy course during the Fall Quarter, 1973, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Based on a pilot program established by the researcher at another institution, the treatment included investigation of research procedures, student utilization of the greenhouse and advanced research equipment, implementation of experimental designs, sampling techniques, and seminars. It was hypothesized that students exposed to the model would have better grades, higher class attendance, and improved attitudes toward the course and toward the agriculture profession than students who were not exposed to the model. Attitudes were determined by answers given on an attitude questionnaire which was developed by the researcher. Differences in attitudes, grades, and attendance between the two groups were analyzed for significance by a multivariate ANOVA.

Results of this ANOVA showed that no significant differences existed at the .05 level for grades, attendance, and attitudes between the two groups. A factor analysis of the questionnaire indicated that various attitudes were tested, rather than a single attitude. However, resultant scores for five general attitudes believed to be determined by the questionnaire indicated that no differences in attitudes existed between the two groups.

As a result of this study, it was concluded that the model, as implemented, had no effect on grades, class attendance, or attitudes. However, experience gained as a result of this study led to several major recommendations for refinements which would improve the validity and reliability of future, similar studies.