This activity is readily performed in a variety of classroom settings, and instructors may choose a different subject of focus,
such as evolution, agriculture, or microbiology, while still utilizing some of our materials and our general pedagogical framework. In our classroom, students felt more invested in projects
involving their own ideas, and a greater sense of accomplishment
when the project was concluded (Figure 4). Our student survey
revealed that the majority of students found this activity beneficial and reported acquisition of new skills like data organization
and experimentation (Figure 4). However, the survey may also
demonstrate a well-known bias in the benefits of active learning.
Haak et al. (2011) showed that active-learning activities benefit
lower-performing students significantly more than high-perform-ing students. This may explain why some students did not perceive
this activity as superior to lecture methods.
List of Supplemental Material with the
Online Version of This Article
S1: Background information on legume biology
S2: Harvesting and measuring instructions
S3: Bi-weekly data sheet
S4: Final harvest data sheet
S5: Example data
S6: Statistical data analysis
S7: Student survey
We acknowledge the support of the Florida International University
STEM Transformation Institute and its Discipline-Based Education
Research Group for informing our implementation of active-learning
strategies. We also thank the 2016 Kampong Teacher Professional
Development participants, the Kampong staff, and coordinator David
Black for helpful comments and for beta-testing this activity. This
work was funded by National Science Foundation grants DEB
1355216, DEB 1354878, and PGRP 1339346. The teaching and outreach activities of E.v.W. have been further supported by a Howard
Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) faculty teaching fellowship awarded
through HHMI award no. 52006924 to Florida International University’s STEM Transformation Institute.
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Figure 4. Student survey results. Students were asked to
reflect on six statements aimed to gauge their outcomes
and attitudes: (Q1) I participated in the experiment. (Q2)
The experiment was helpful in understanding the course
material. (Q3) I learned new skills like data collection and
organization. (Q4) I found this project more engaging than a
lecture. (Q5) I think hands-on projects like this are effective
and I learned a lot. (Q6) I would like to do something like