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Backward Redesign of a Nonmajors’ Biology Course at a Two-Year Technical College

Journal of College Science Teaching—July/August 2020 (Volume 49, Issue 6)

By Margaret Long, Adrienne Cottrell-Yongye, and Tyler Huynh

Gwinnett Technical College (GTC), established in 1984, is the second-largest technical college in Georgia. As a two-year open-access college, GTC and other technical and community colleges are significant in educating STEM and non-STEM majors in the scientific process and scientific literacy. To increase the success of students enrolled in nonmajors Biology I, three GTC biology faculty collaborated to redesign the course, using a backward design method. Grade analysis performed inference about two population proportions and descriptive statistics to interpret data. After course redesign, there was a statistically significant decrease in the D, F, Withdrawal (DFW) rates and a significant increase in students passing with a C average. Further analysis showed first-semester “beginning” students, traditional-aged students, and minority students benefitted most from the curriculum redesign. The backward design model for curriculum redesign was effective in increasing learning and retention in biology at the technical college level. The redesign helped students in jeopardy of failing or  withdrawing from the course, especially in groups of students considered “at risk.” This study contributes to the growing body of knowledge regarding the design of STEM curriculum at the technical college level.



Biology Teacher Preparation



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