Date of Award

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Science Teaching


James T. Spencer


active learning, forensic science, POGIL

Subject Categories



A causal-comparative/quasi experimental study examined the effect of incorporating a hybrid teaching methodology that blended lecture with Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Lessons (POGILs) on the overall academic achievement of a diverse student body in a large lecture setting. Additional considerations included student gender, ethnicity, declared major (STEM or non-STEM), and SAT scores. An evaluation of the effect that these characteristics had on student achievement due to differentiating import placed on the use of POGILs as a learning tool was included. This study used data obtained from a longitudinal examination of eight years of student data from an introductory forensic science survey course offered in a R1 northeastern university.

This study addressed the effectiveness of applying a proscribed active learning methodology, one proposed effective in collegiate education, to a new environment, forensic science. The methodology employed combined fourteen POGILs, created specifically for the chosen course, with didactic lecture during the entire semester of a forensic science survey course. This quasi-experimental design used the manipulation of the independent variable, the use of a hybrid lecture instead of exclusive use of traditional didactic lectures, on the students’ academic achievement on exams given during the course.

Participants in this study (N=1436) were undergraduate students enrolled in the single semester introductory science course. A longitudinal study that incorporated eight years of data was completed, 4 years pre-intervention (2007-2010) and 4 years post-intervention (2011-2014). The forensic science survey course, taught by only one professor during the eight-year period, was a science discipline that had yet to integrate an active learning educational model.

Findings indicate four variables significantly contributed to explaining nearly 28% of the variation seen in the student class averages earned during the eight-year period: the intervention, gender, STEM majors, and SAT scores. On average, the intervention significantly altered exam scores, F (1, 1431) = 43.019, p < 0.000, R2 = 0.029, raising exam averages 3.1%. Within the population, females outperformed their male counterparts by 1.9%, although both genders were significantly affected by the intervention, F (1, 1431) = 13.698, p < 0.000, R2 = 0.009. Students with declared majors in the STEM fields outperformed the non-STEM fields by 5.6%, a strong factor in the model, F (1, 1431) = 91.918, p < 0.000, R2 = 0.060, with both STEM and non-STEM students being positively affected by the intervention. The SAT scores, however, showed the strongest effect, F (1, 1431) = 345.026, p < 0.000, R2 = 0.179, where an increase of 3.1% in the student class averages could be seen for every 100 points earned on the SATs. Further discussions include implications and correlations to recent research and directions for future research.


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