'Folding Space' for first-year distance education students in a general microbiology course to provide relevance to a diverse cohort and an experience on par with being on campus

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

In the classic science fiction book Dune, the Guild Navigators fold space to travel without moving. In our first-year General Microbiology class we have about 500 students, half of whom are studying by Distance Education (DE). We hypothesized that strategies to give DE students an ‘on-campus’ experience online (analogous to ‘folding space’) and emphasizing the relevance of microbiology to their programs would lead to better engagement and performance in the course. We teach this Microbiology course in 16 undergraduate programs ranging from the Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences to the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences. Strategies to “fold space” included personal recording of lectures specifically developed for our Distance students, rather than recordings of lectures given to on-campus students. Online meetings to provide synchronous contact with on-campus students and discussion forums that were managed to provide rapid responses to questions were some strategies implemented to provide a supportive learning environment. To show relevance of the course to various programs, the first lecture linked the importance of microbiology to the different programs and future careers with discipline-specific examples throughout the course. Students were also assessed on the relevance of microbiology to their program. The success of these strategies is reflected in formal confidential student evaluations over the last 10 years. Student satisfaction in the course went from 4.7 to 6.3 (on a scale of 1 to 7) and retention of students doubled over this period. Overall, the average subject satisfaction rate for the distance cohort was 79.2 ± 3.3%. The overall average percentile ranking of all core questions asked in the survey was 45.6 ± 9.3. One of the key features of our approach was our engagement with students in a way that was supportive and relaxed, where humor was used in a positive way to help students learn and to see the fun in learning. The data suggest that strategies implemented in this course were effective in enhancing overall course engagement and performance in this student cohort.
Original languageEnglish
Pages22
Number of pages1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2018
Event25th annual American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators: ASMCUE - Renaissance Austin Hotel, Austin, United States
Duration: 26 Jul 201829 Jul 2018
https://guidebook.com/guide/123605/ (conference guidebook)

Conference

Conference25th annual American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators
Abbreviated titleMicrobiology Education
CountryUnited States
CityAustin
Period26/07/1829/07/18
Internet address

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