Design and assessment of online, interactive tutorials that teach science process skills

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Explicit emphasis on teaching science process skills leads to both gains in the skills themselves and, strikingly, deeper understanding of content. Here, we created and tested a series of online, interactive tutorials with the goal of helping undergraduate students develop science process skills. We designed the tutorials in accordance with evidence-based multimedia design principles and student feedback from usability testing. We then tested the efficacy of the tutorials in an introductory undergraduate biology class. On the basis of a multivariate ordinary least-squares regression model, students who received the tutorials are predicted to score 0.82 points higher on a 15-point science process skill assessment than their peers who received traditional textbook instruction on the same topic. This moderate but significant impact indicates that well-designed online tutorials can be more effective than traditional ways of teaching science process skills to undergraduate students. We also found trends that suggest the tutorials are especially effective for nonnative English-speaking students. However, due to a limited sample size, we were unable to confirm that these trends occurred due to more than just variation in the student group sampled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar19
JournalCBE life sciences education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

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