Incorporation of small-group learning activities into biology lectures to enhance learning at a University in Pretoria, South Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There have been intense teaching challenges at institutions of higher learning as a result of an increasing range of courses offered to students with diverse backgrounds and levels of preparedness. Lecturers are also faced with a high failure rate and increased retention rates. Student achievement is crucial, and efforts have to be made to adapt and change to methods of teaching that contribute to the better performance of students. Hence, calls have been made for a radical shift from teaching which is teacher-centered to student-centered teaching approaches. The study assessed students' perceptions on the incorporation of active learning in small groups and the impact of the incorporation of small-group learning activities into Biology lectures on the performance of the students. Participants showed a preference for small-group learning activities and indicated that incorporating small-group learning activities into lectures should be compulsory. The average mean test marks of 72 Biology students before and after the incorporation of small-group learning activities were compared. Results showed that the mean test mark (52.7±15.7) of the participants was significantly higher after incorporation of small-group learning activities compared to before incorporation (38.9±16.4), indicating a positive effect (p<0.05) of small-group learning activities on student performance. The participants also showed a preference for the incorporation of small-group learning activities into lectures. It is recommended that other factors such as the preparedness of students before assessments be investigated in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-390
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Academic performance
  • Assessments
  • Learning activities
  • Lectures
  • Small groups

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