We have developed a highly successful general education course on biotechnology for a general audience comprising Life Sciences majors and non-majors over the past ten years. This course serves as a General Education course in the Natural Sciences core area at URI and consistently attracts 81-147 students each semester from a wide range of diverse majors, including Business, Fine Arts, Political Science, Life Sciences (all), Textile Merchandising and Design (TMD), Nursing, Engineering, Sociology, and many others, as well as a range of academic years comprising about 25% each for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. It is cross listed through five departments: AFS, BCH, MIC, NRS and PLS, but collectively referred to in this proposal as BCH 190. Our data shows that we have had 1683 students take this course since 2004. It is also now also offered as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).
We have collected data on student evaluation of this course since 2004, first using SETI and more recently, The IDEA CENTER, both independent non-profit evaluation resources. Using the most recent data available through IDEA (Fall semester 2011) we show that this course has been both highly effective based on Relevant Objectives and rated highly by students on Teaching Methods and Styles and Student Involvement and Classroom Experience Table 2 shows high scores (based on a 5-point scale) for effectiveness on Progress on Relevant Objectives (4.2) and Excellence as a Teacher (Kausch) (4.5) and as a Course (4.4). These data also show excellence on ratings for Important Objectives, including A for Gaining factual knowledge (terminology, classifications, methods, trends) (4.3/5) B. Learning fundamental principles, generalizations, and theories (4.3/5), and C. Gaining broader understanding and appreciation of intellectual/cultural activity (science, literature, etc.) (4.1/5) with an overall rating of 4.2. The IDEA CENTER data shows also demonstrates high ratings for Teaching Methods and Styles with high percentages (above 91%) of students rating a 4 or 5 for All Selected Objectives. These data were judged statistically significant by percent response and their High Ratings are clearly indicative of a High Performing Course, Instructor and Methods. The students also evaluate the course by instructors evaluations which query different criteria from IDEA. When asked to grade the professor, over 93% responded with an A (from 2004-2012). These scores are also consistent with High Ratings (4.4) and enthusiastic comments for Kausch as a teacher on ratemyprofessors.com.
The course is constructed using PowerPoint driven lectures that are painstakingly up to date, which are offered available a study materials, and free to teachers as teaching materials. It should be stressed that this is a unique class covering a broad range of complicated subject material for a broad audience on topics normally reserved for upper level majors courses. There is not another course like this that we are aware of anywhere in the country, and because of this fact and the need to remain current, there is also not an effective textbook for most of this course. Interactive questions are interspersed throughout the lectures and polled using iClicker technology. Some of these questions may appear on weekly quizzes and others are instructive use of anonymous polling of ethical situations. Study Questions comprised of multiple choice questions are given to help prepare students for quizzes and further inform the subject material and are used as a pool of questions for Quizzes. As judged by the data presented in the IDEA CENTER evaluations this Experience and involvement is highly effective by today’s students for this subject material.
Our major goal now is to adopt this highly effective OnCampus course as an OnLine course that is as highly effective and to widely distribute its delivery and educational materials onto a broad and large general undergraduate student enrollment. We have already made significant steps toward this achievement. We have filmed all of the lectures in the course and developed the PowerPoint slide database, the Study Guides and the Quizzes and Exams, and Project for a seamless technical delivery.
Effective December 5, 2011, The Curriculum Affairs Committee (CAC) at URI, in consultation with the Undergraduate Curriculum General Education (UCGE) Committee, approved BCH 190 Issues in Biotechnology (Kausch) for online instruction. The UCGE Committee approved BCH 190 as a General Education course in the Natural Sciences (N) core area: using qualitative data, using quantitative data, reading complex texts. We have developed and beta-tested this OnLine course during Spring Semester 2012 through the University of Rhode Island using the Sakai format. feedback from students indicated a high level of response and we look forward to a data comparison through IDEA Diagnostics in a comparative analysis between the OnCampus and OnLine versions which were conducted simultaneously in parallel during that semester. We now seek support through this proposal to launch and meta-test this OnLine course throughout Rhode Island and adjacent states in the NorthEast US. Our projections indicate that this will be a very widely appreciated course and could attract quite a large enrollment. In addition, we have made this course available to High School (HS) seniors through URI Special Programs offering three college credits for $190 students. It is also now also offered as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). We have had over 1493 HS students finish this course effectively. We have also offered a modified version of this course for HS teachers for credits to accomplish their MS degrees as part of their certification and professional development. We have had 94 HS teachers take this course for that purpose and many have gone on to teach this course (or a modified version of it) using our materials in their schools.