Abstract

To be successful in many undergraduate disciplines, students must retain base knowledge from lower level courses and apply that knowledge in upper level courses. Students may benefit from and realize the importance of mastering basic concepts from the opportunity to utilize base knowledge in a real-world setting. Objectives of this project were to compare students’ ability to retain information after completing a real-world learning project (RWLP) to base knowledge retained from exams students took during the semester, and to determine student perception of the RWLP. Incoming freshmen (n=52, 79% female, 96% animal science majors) enrolled in an introductory equine science course worked independently to create a RWLP, specifically an educational bulletin (EB) for eight main topics studied during the course. The main topics were identified by the instructors as the most important topics to learn in an introductory horse science class and included: identification, behavior, health, nutrition, activities, hoof care, parasite/disease, and reproduction. Students completed two content assessments after the course was completed: the regular course exam quiz (REQ) which contained questions (n=16; two questions from each main topic) the students had previously completed on exams, and the educational bulletin quiz (EBQ) which contained questions (n=16; two questions from each main topic) that were generated by the instructors from each student’s EB. Students also completed a three-question survey (Likert scale 1-5) regarding the influence of the EB on their understanding of the material, retention of material presented in class, and overall impression of the EB. Student scores on the REQ and EBQ were positively correlated (r=0.54 and r=0.39, respectively) to final course grade, but not to gender (-0.05< r <0.05). Students performed better (P<0.0001) on questions from the EBQ compared to questions from the REQ. Students indicated they enjoyed completing the EB and perceived that they better understood basic information and expected to better retain the material as a direct result (4.5 ± 0.1, 4.72 ± 0.1 and 4.5 ± 0.4 on a 5-point scale, respectively). Students benefited from completing the EB project by better retaining key concepts taught during an introductory equine science course and the project was highly thought of by students. Disciplines that require students to retain key concepts from lower level courses for later use in upper level courses could benefit from a RWLP like the EB.

 

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