The effect of adding a combination of interactive online and hands-on activities on high school biology in a blended virtual environment
Arnold, Kelly Marie
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This paper discusses the effects of adding a combination of interactive online and hands-on activities on high school biology students in a blended, virtual-learning environment. The project was designed to determine if credit-deficient students in a self-paced, online biology course would learn more and become more engaged learners if active learning opportunities were added to the normal online program. Students in these courses normally receive only passive instruction and occasional tutoring when requested. The students involved in the study were enrolled in the Virtual High School program in Clarksville-Montgomery County, Tennessee for the 2012-13 school year for the purpose of catching up to the required 22 credits necessary for on-time graduation. Each of these students was considered credit deficient to the point of not completing the graduation requirements before being dropped at the end of their fourth year of high school, as per district policy. Student learning using the traditional online program was compared to student learning using the online program combined with both interactive online activities and hands-on, small-group activities. Results indicated that student understanding was increased, but there was little effect on long-term memory. Data also indicated a negative impact on both teacher and student attitude and motivation due to the increased structure and time requirement for the additional activities.