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A Modified CREATE Intervention Improves Student Cognitive and Affective Outcomes in an Upper-Division Genetics Course.


Many national reports have called for undergraduate biology education to incorporate research and analytical thinking into the curriculum. In response, interventions have been developed and tested. CREATE (Consider, Read, Elucidate the hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, and Think of the next Experiment) is an instructional strategy designed to engage students in learning core concepts and competencies through careful reading of primary literature in a scaffolded fashion. CREATE has been successfully implemented by many instructors across diverse institutional contexts and has been shown to help students develop in the affective, cognitive, and epistemological domains, consistent with broader meta-analyses demonstrating the effectiveness of active learning. Nonetheless, some studies on CREATE have reported discrepant results, raising important questions on effectiveness in relation to the fidelity and integrity of implementation. Here, we describe an upper-division genetics course that incorporates a modified version of CREATE. Similar to the original CREATE instructional strategy, our intervention's design was based on existing learning principles. Using existing concept inventories and validated survey instruments, we found that our modified CREATE intervention promotes higher affective and cognitive gains in students in contrast to three comparison groups. We also found that students tended to underpredict their learning and performance in the modified CREATE intervention, while students in some comparison groups had the opposite trend. Together, our results contribute to the expanding literature on how and why different implementations of the same active-learning strategy contribute to student outcomes.

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