Wednesday, August 6, 2008

PS 47-141: Evaluating learning gains from using biodiversity conservation teaching modules in undergraduate courses at five institutions

Stuart R. Ketcham1, Barbara J. Abraham2, Nora Bynum3, John A. Cigliano4, Christine A. Engels3, Margaret-Ann Mayer5, Emily H. Mooney6, and Eleanor Sterling3. (1) University of the Virgin Islands, (2) Hampton University, (3) American Museum of Natural History, (4) Cedar Crest College, (5) Dine College, (6) Muhlenberg College

Background/Question/Methods The Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP) has developed over 60 freely available biodiversity teaching modules, including “What Is Biodiversity?”, “Why Is Biodiversity Important?”, and “Threats to Biodiversity” ( A pilot study last year evaluated the effectiveness of these three modules. In that study, eight instructors, teaching a range of courses at eight educational institutions (large and small, and public and private), used different portions of NCEP PowerPoint presentations to teach these modules. The portions were chosen by each instructor to be appropriate for each course. Effects of the modules were tested by administering pre- and post-module knowledge and attitudinal tests to students. Use of these modules led to a significant 19% increase in biodiversity knowledge, as well as increases in confidence in biodiversity knowledge and interest in biodiversity conservation. Subsequent review of the knowledge test instrument revealed two flaws: several of the questions tested concepts not presented by one or more of the instructors, and many of the questions were answered correctly by a majority of students in the pre-module test. In the present study, we revised that test instrument to reduce those flaws and repeated the pilot study, evaluating the same three modules at five institutions. Results/Conclusions A multivariate comparison evaluating the effects of these modules across courses and across institutions is in progress. Continued evaluation and refinement of these freely available education materials will improve the efficacy of these teaching tools, and ultimately improve teaching and learning in ecology and conservation biology.