M. Ferzli, K. Pigford, B. Black

North Carolina State University (UNITED STATES)
As we have begun to move toward a blended classroom format in Introductory Biology, lack of preparation by students prior to class has made it difficult to implement active learning during class, especially in sections that meet in large lecture halls. While Biology textbooks can be used outside of class, many students resist reading assignments, finding them to be too tedious, while the cost of textbooks is fast becoming a financial burden for most students. Thus we wish to provide online materials for use before classes that are cost-free, engaging, and more likely to stimulate student interest in biological content and motivation to learn. Recent studies have revealed that game-based learning has a positive impact on student motivation, as summarized by recent Horizon reports. The most recent development in this realm is gamification, the incorporation of gaming elements or frameworks into non-game scenarios. A gamified learning object is not an actual game, but includes game-like features that engage and motivate the learner. Thus, we decided to develop game-like learning objects (GLOs) for selected topics in Introductory Biology. The GLOs are designed to be used on the Internet before class meetings to cover the basic concepts of a specific topic, thus allowing instructors to use class time for active-learning approaches that delve more deeply into the topic and promote critical thinking and problem solving skills. The GLO described in this presentation serves as an introduction to evolution, including Darwin’s views on natural selection, genetic drift, and sources of genetic variation. It contains learning objectives presented as quests, with each quest taking the student to a scientific article, narrated slide-show, video clip, animation, or interactive simulation, followed by assessment questions with immediate feedback. The Evolution GLO was created in html5/JavaScript format for universal usage and can be edited and customized for a variety of purposes. It currently contains 7 hotspots which link to the media utilized for 7 quests. Since we plan to use the GLO as part of a blended learning experience, we have developed active-learning exercises for classroom use that draw upon knowledge gained from the quests. The effectiveness of the Evolution GLO and correlated exercises to enhance student’s understanding of evolution will be assessed using a comparison group study approach that will analyze overall conceptual understanding of each topic covered in the GLO. Students within the control group will be assigned equivalent textbook readings for each of the 7 quests contained within the GLO. Student motivation will be assessed using the IMI (Intrinsic Motivation Inventory), a multidimensional survey instrument designed to measure student’s experiences in regards to a targeted activity.