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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Kent State University
  • John T Dunlosky
  • (330) 672-2207
  • Katherine A Rawson
Award Date:12/06/2019
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 552,145
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 552,145
  • FY 2020=$552,145
Start Date:12/01/2019
End Date:11/30/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.076
Primary Program Source:040106 NSF Education & Human Resource
Award Title or Description:Enhancing Durable and Efficient Student Learning in Undergraduate Gateway STEM Courses
Federal Award ID Number:1914499
DUNS ID:041071101
Parent DUNS ID:041071101
Program Officer:
  • Michael Ferrara
  • (703) 292-2635

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:13

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Kent State University
Street:800 E. Summit St.
Cong. District:13

Abstract at Time of Award

This project aims to serve the national interest by applying learning research to help undergraduate students learn and remember foundational scientific concepts. In STEM disciplines, students must be able to remember and use what they learned in introductory courses months after those courses have ended. This durability of knowledge enables students to build a cumulative knowledge base as they move from introductory classes to more advanced coursework. Accordingly, instructors in introductory STEM courses face a major problem: how can they help their students learn key concepts so that they remember and can use this knowledge in the future? The problem is even more overwhelming when one considers the amount of information that STEM students are expected to learn. If students are to learn and remember all the important content, they must use their study time as efficiently as possible. To help instructors and students meet these challenges, this Development and Implementation (Level I) proposal (Engaged Student Learning Track) will evaluate a web-based learning tool. This tool applies research about how people make long-term memories and will be used by students in gateway courses in chemistry, biology, and physics. At intervals, the tool will quiz students about foundational concepts and provide feedback on their performance. The project expects that, by providing multiple opportunities to remember, review, and relearn foundational concepts, the tool will improve the efficiency and durability of students' learning. This review-feedback method is based on simple, but powerful learning tasks. As a result, it could be used for a broad range of content across many STEM courses. Thus, this project has the potential to enhance student success in many STEM disciplines. The specific objectives of this project are to experimentally evaluate: 1) the efficacy of using a Retrieval-Monitoring-Feedback (RMF) method to improve student achievement on high-stakes exams in gateway STEM courses; 2) the degree to which the RMF method enhances performance on distal outcomes; and 3) the degree to which a refresher session using the RMF method enhances course exam performance in advanced courses in the subsequent semester. Fundamental concepts in biology, chemistry, and physics will be identified, and the web-based tool will prompt students to study the course concepts twice a week. During each study session, the web-based tool will prompt students to retrieve the targeted concepts and will provide feedback that allows students to accurately score their responses and to relearn the correct answers. Students will continue being quizzed until they can correctly retrieve the meaning of each concept, and then they will repeat this procedure to review or relearn the same concepts in subsequent sessions. Based on laboratory studies of learning, it is known that such successive relearning can produce durable learning of science concepts. Thus, a major benefit of the project to society is that it will evaluate its efficacy for boosting students' achievement outside of the laboratory, specifically in the real-world context of undergraduate science courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. This project is supported by the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program: Education and Human Resources, which supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students. Through the Engaged Student Learning track, the program supports the creation, exploration, and implementation of promising practices and tools. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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