Exploring Blended Learning to Enhance Biology Instruction—Literature Review and Study Design

Exploring Blended Learning to Enhance Biology Instruction—Literature Review and Study Design

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Exploring Blended Learning to Enhance Biology Instruction—Literature Review and Study Design Qi Wang, PhD Gallaudet University, United States [email protected] Caroline Solomon, PhD Gallaudet University, United States [email protected] Abstract: Instruction of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content has always been challenging for deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students. Several major factors related to STEM subjects, K-12 education of DHH students, and the unique instructional environment have adversely affected student learning delivered through traditional one-pace-fits-all university classroom lectures. These factors include DHH students’ general lack of prior scientific content knowledge, practice-based skill acquisition in STEM fields that requires learning labs to replicate real-world environment, communication difficulties caused by a lack of a universal signing standard and extensive use of fingerspelling in signed lectures, and a significant diversity in learner capability. This paper reviews relevant literature, describes a multiple case study (still in progress), designed to explore a blended learning pedagogy with DHH biology majors to enhance their comprehension and scientific reasoning skills, and reports its preliminary findings. Introduction As the world leader in liberal education and career development for deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) undergraduate students, Gallaudet University (GU) has a great responsibility to prepare its students who are aspired for STEM careers to enter the workforce. However, instruction of STEM content has always been challenging for DHH students who primarily depend upon visual sensory inputs to process information. Take biology as an example, low class pass rate in introductory biology courses have been the norm in the past. Several major factors including the subject matter itself, the learner characteristics, and the unique instructional environment at GU are identified as potential culprits to poor learner performance. Science learning presents additional challenges to DHH students as they are generally found to lack prior scientific content knowledge relative to hearing students to link classroom lectures and reading materials (Marschark & Wauters, 2008). Part of the reason is that DHH students frequently do not get much needed attention in an inclusive K-12 science class. In addition, their need to attend to multiple visual information sources (e.g. sign language, real time text, PowerPoint slides) in a traditional classroom setting weakens their mental focus and hinders automatic integrative processing among concepts (Marschark & Hauser, 2008). Much of the science learning involves building scientific skills and applying concepts through experimentation and manipulation of real objects in laboratory (Kumar, 2002). The practice-based skills acquisition nature requires that learning labs replicate a real-world environment. However, it is not always possible to provide real-world experiences in a biology course or its labs.
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2011 for the course PUK 202 taught by Professor Roth during the Spring '10 term at Universität Klagenfurt.

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Exploring Blended Learning to Enhance Biology Instruction—Literature Review and Study Design

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