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Wednesday, June 18 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
PSD.31 – Engaging Students in Large Undergraduate Classes: Evaluation of an Optional Experiential Learning Activity

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Due to increased post-secondary enrollment, class sizes have expanded. Studies have found large class sizes to be associated with low student engagement. Because student engagement is strongly associated with positive learning and performance outcomes, there is a growing body of research on strategies to engage students in large classes. Many active learning strategies, such as clicker questions and a think-pair-share activity, engage students momentarily in the classroom. Experiential learning activities (ELAs) may more effectively engage students in the course as a whole and improve their academic performance.

In this session, we will share the results an intervention study conducted in two large first and second year undergraduate nutrition courses at University of Guelph, Ontario, in fall 2012 and winter 2013. In the study, all students (n = 980) were invited to participate in an optional ELA involving completion of a 3-day food record, a tour of a health assessment research lab, and body composition (percent body fat) assessment using the lab’s BOD POD®. Participants completed a take-home assignment that allowed them to apply course content to interpret their diet analysis and body composition results. To examine effect of the ELA on student engagement, we compared students’ baseline and follow-up scores on the Classroom Survey of Student Engagement (CLASSE), a classroom-level adaptation of the National Survey of Student Engagement (Indiana Center for Postsecondary Research). To assess impact of the ELA on course performance, we compared change in percentile rank from the midterm to the final exam among students who did vs. did not participate in the ELA. Finally, we administered a satisfaction survey to examine students’ impression of the ELA experience.

The ELA changed the way students learned, and also changed the instructors’ own teaching methods. Our results suggest that an ELA can be used to generate interest and increase overall student course engagement and performance in large undergraduate nutrition courses. Researchers should continue to explore the effectiveness of learning initiatives that target underlying motivating factors of engagement in transforming students into active learner.



Wednesday June 18, 2014 11:00am - 12:30pm
A234 McArthur Hall

Attendees (9)