The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) through Targeted Infusion Projects supports the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based innovative models and approaches for improving the preparation and success of HBCU undergraduate students so that they may pursue STEM graduate programs and/or careers. Delaware State University will implement a project entitled: Expanding Educational Cyber-Infrastructure at Delaware State University. The project aims to integrate cyberlearning strategies into the biology curriculum to improve instruction and increase student achievement, retention and graduation in STEM fields. Project objectives include expanding the institution's distance learning infrastructure; adapting cyberlearning approaches to enhance biology instruction; and adapting the technology-supported inverted classroom student-centered approach to teaching. In an inverted classroom, learning activities that are normally carried out inside the classroom, such as lecturing, take place outside of class, and learning activities that are normally completed at home, such as solving problems and applying the course concepts in homework assignments, become the focus of in-class work. This approach has been shown to be a powerful and empowering mode of instruction for all types of learners.
Redesigned biology classes will have students doing the lower levels of cognitive work such as gaining knowledge and comprehension outside of class, and focusing on the higher forms of cognitive work such as application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation in class, where they have the support of their peers and instructor. A teaching approach that allows students to access course content in the same way that they access content related to their personal interests has the potential to increase their engagement with the material, while being able to control the pace and timing of their access can give them ownership of their learning. Educational literature has demonstrated that students learn best when they are active, engaged and learning for a purpose. The project will assess the efficacy of this course delivery model for supporting student learning and course performance over a wide variety of courses and instructors. If the project yields positive outcomes in student learning and course success with inverted versions of the biology courses from the introductory to the advanced level, it will provide a powerful model for STEM departments on campus and at other HBCUs.