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Enhancing Learning Of Low Ability Students In Multi Section Freshman Lecture/Laboratory Classes

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

FPD9 -- Technology & Textbooks

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.586.1 - 11.586.13



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Paper Authors


Jon Sticklen Michigan State University

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Jon Sticklen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University. He has a strong research record in knowledge-based systems. His main contributions have been in the theory and application of task specific approaches and in model-based reasoning. Dr. Sticklen has led the effort to rejuvenate the MSU College of Engineering freshman gateway course in computational tools.

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Mark Urban-Lurain Michigan State University

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Mark Urban-Lurain is Director of Instructional Technology Research and Development in the Division of Science and Mathematics Education at Michigan State University. He is responsible for providing vision, direction, planning and implementation for using technology mathematics and science education and developed several introductory computer science courses for non-computer science students serving 2000 students per semester.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Enhancing Learning of Low Performance Students in Multi-section Freshman Lecture/Laboratory Classes


Because of a scheduling “glitch,” in fall semester, 2004, our large enrollment introductory computer science was offered in two lecture sections at opposite ends of the week. One lecture section met on Monday nights at 7:00 p.m., with associated labs meeting later in the week. A second lecture section met on Friday mornings at 10:20 a.m., with associated labs meeting before lecture during that week. Rather than moving the lab sections for the Friday lectures to the following week, we decided to compare the results of using the Monday lecture for preparation for the upcoming labs and the Friday lecture as a “wrap up” of that week’s labs. Analysis of the 2004 data shows that there was no statistically significant different in student outcomes between the two lecture days. In 2005, the same scheduling occurred. However, this year we added the use of a Personal Response System (PRS or “clickers”) to encourage student preparation and participation. For middle and high performing students, there are no differences in outcomes. However, low performing students in the Friday section performed significantly better than the low ability students in the Monday section in total points, midterm exams, and individual quizzes. Comparing women to men showed no differences in the Monday section, but women performed significantly better than men in the Friday section. The results of this study have implications for improving outcomes and retention for at-risk populations in engineering.


This is the follow-on paper to research reported at ASEE 2005 1. In the earlier work, we began an examination of the effect of the timing of lecture in relation to laboratory, for high enrollment freshman engineering courses. The research question we addressed was “Does lecture-before-lab versus lecture-after-lab affect objective student performance?” In the work reported here, we extended our earlier work. The major finding in this study is that lecture-after-lab, when compared to lecture-before-lab, has a statistically significant effect in raising the performance of the lowest performance students.

A common instructional model for freshman engineering is the lecture/laboratory model. In this model, students usually spend two to four hours per week in a large lecture section typically of one hundred or more students, and three to six hours per week in small laboratory (or recitation) sections typically of twenty or fewer students.

Although not universal, the most common implementation of this instructional model is that lecture introduces material of a given “unit” before laboratory (or recitation) sections give students an opportunity to provide hands on, detailed experience with applying knowledge introduced in assigned readings and lecture. The assumption is that students need a framework for understanding before they can apply material of a given unit, and that such a framework is

Sticklen, J., & Urban-Lurain, M. (2006, June), Enhancing Learning Of Low Ability Students In Multi Section Freshman Lecture/Laboratory Classes Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1201

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