Factors Affecting Learning Gains among Students in Microbiology Class: A Preliminary Study Between a U.S. Community College and a Canadian Comprehensive University
Though in the past, serious concerns have been raised about students’ interest and learning gains in STEM courses, not much research has been done to examine the differences in learning science at community colleges and universities. The purpose of this paper is to close this gap. This paper analyzes the influence of students’ demographics, preparedness, major, and attitudes on their learning gains in an introductory microbiology class at a community college vs. a university. Student demographics, information about their preparedness level, major, and attitudes were collected in a questionnaire and students’ learning gains were assessed by comparing student performance on a pre- and post-test on four different topics in microbiology. Our results indicate that students’ majors and attitudes such as their willingness to actively participate in the classroom discussions and spend time outside the classroom to learn are major factors that enhance their learning. Age and marital status positively impact learning gains while gender, employment status, and citizenship status show no impact on learning gains in students. Our results also indicate that students at the community college who had less exposure to science classes in high school or biology classes in college achieved statistically higher learning gains despite having overall lower scores on two of the four post-tests.
Copyright (c) 2020 Naowarat Cheeptham & Archana Lal
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