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Abstract Detail


Teaching Section

Wandersee, James H. [1], Clary, Renee M. [2].

Research on the Teaching and Learning Benefits of the Leonardo Online Discussion Board Strategy®.

Around the world, plant biology instructors are inviting students into cyberspace to enrich their learning outside classroom walls. Moving beyond directed student visits to obviously relevant web sites (e.g, web quests), an online discussion board (aka, forum) is a server-based facility on the World Wide Web that allows class members to participate in asynchronous, threaded discussions outside of class. Many institutions offer instructors the use of one of over 40 online course management systems, and many of these systems include a discussion board. There are also inexpensive, stand-alone discussion boards that are either free to teachers, or can be rented quite inexpensively by the semester. However, we have observed (at four universities) that few college science instructors make productive, curriculum-driven use of discussion boards, much less maximize their potential to transform a class into a community of learners, expand instruction time, and assess the quality and quantity of their students' participation. In an effort to address this instructional gap, we designed and tested our Leonardo Online Discussion Board Strategy®. It is based on: Leonardo da Vinci's approach to scientific inquiry (Gelb, 2000) which assigned high value to curiosity and careful observation of nature; Mintzes, Wandersee, and Novak's (2000) human constructivist learning theory; and Paivio’s (1986) dual coding theory of memory. Using actual discussion board questions and responses from large data sets, our study (N=177) found that the Leonardo strategy yielded substantial gains in course instruction time, intraclass communication, and students’ views of course coherence and course content. These gains, in turn, correlated with better science test performance. Finally, our research indicated that such a discussion board can help revitalize college science teaching and learning, enhance student reflection upon course content, and help instructors evaluate their students' progress toward understanding plant biology.


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1 - Louisiana State University, Dept. of Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice, Ph.D. Studies in Biology Education, 223 Peabody Hall, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803, USA
2 - Mississippi State University, Dept. of Geosciences, 301-B Hilbun Hall, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39762, USA

Keywords:
Leonardo strategy
online discussion board
course instruction time
multi-threaded discussions
plant science education
scientific teaching
intra-class communication
course coherence.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: CP06
Location: Boulevard A/Hilton
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2007
Time: 10:15 AM
Number: CP06006
Abstract ID:1988


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