Introductory Microbiology for Pre Allied Health is a hybrid course with a lab. The course is capped at 24 students. Digital lectures are given online through Blackboard. Students come on campus for short reviews and lab work.
Scores 690 total points that are broken down as follows:
- 500 points: Four exams (three are in class; one online)
- 50 points: MasteringMicrobiology homework (roughly 8% of the course grade)
- 50 points: Lab exam
- 50 points: Lab practical
- 40 points: Case studies
- Practice: Online quizzes
The course is divided into five modules. Each module is paired with an assignment in Mastering Microbiology. The assignments are mainly test bank items since this is a beta test and activities are not yet available (if there were activities I would assign them to the students in addition to the bank questions). Each MasteringMicrobiology assignment counts as a homework score. The assignments are set up to take roughly half an hour (15–20 questions per HW). Five MasteringMicrobiology modules are assigned. There are about 10–15 items on each module, generally comprised of Test Bank items. A module should take about 30 minutes. The items, in general, are critical-thinking-based questions. Many of these students are nursing hopefuls. It is important that they are being trained to analyze questions and provide thoughtful answers. Critical-thinking questions are better than the fact-based ones, especially for online delivery. Since MasteringMicrobiology is assigned as homework, students are encouraged to research answers in the book or other resources. They are also encouraged to work in groups.
After an assignment, I review the questions that the students missed as a group (as a class/as a whole... not on an individual basis... I look at the pooled class data that the Mastering program computers). Originally, I didn't allow students to print off the questions. Thus, the difficulty and time stamp data was useful. However, students pressed hard for the ability to print their homework. Now that I allow them to print, I don't rely on the diagnostic data (I do look at the diagnostics, but the time on task is not as heavily weighed... and since I don't know how the time on task weighs into the "difficulty" algorithm, I tend to look at the correct/incorrect data instead and also how many attempts...it's not that I don't use the metrics... it's more a distinction as to which ones I consider as more "valid".)
Two of the biggest surprises were 1) students expressed an interest in printing out the questions; and 2) students didn't do as well on the assignments as I would have thought. Although they are spending more time on the assignments than I expected, they aren't doing as well as I anticipated. I would have thought that they would want to optimize their points. So far, none have been able to earn a perfect score.
MasteringMicrobiology encourages students to interact with the material, which is good. I tell my students that they don't want to figure out on test day that they didn't know something. MasteringMicrobiology, or assignable homework, helps them figure out earlier what they understand and what they still need to study.
I plan to use MasteringMicrobiology in the future. I will probably add more Activity-based questions to future assignments.
MasteringMicrobiology is a really great tool that puts the work back on the student. We often ask ourselves, "What more can I do as an instructor?" Sometimes the best answer to that question is making sure that the student is doing more. MasteringMicrobiology gives students just such an opportunity.