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The purpose of this study was to assess some of the effects of a nontraditional, experimental learning approach designed to improve rapid acquisition and long-term retention of quantitative communication skills (QCS) such as descriptive and inferential statistics, hypothesis formulation, experimental design, data characteristics, and data analysis. The authors found that (1) the experimental learning approach used in this study resulted in significant improvement in QCS by the end of the semester, (2) there was no significant difference in the QCS backgrounds between students enrolled in the major’s biology course and those enrolled in the nonmajors biology course, (3) there was significant retention of QCS beyond the major’s biology experience, and (4) there was no significant change in QCS beyond the major’s biology experience as a result of other experiences currently in place in the core and upper-division courses that were a part of this study. The results of this study have encouraged the biology faculty to begin the redesign of their curriculum to accommodate a greater use of QCS, including strong intervention of QCS in laboratory sections of all freshman and sophomore courses as well as in most upper-division courses.
A selection from Journal of College Science Teaching—May/June 2010
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