An analysis of the impact of three high school schedules on student achievement in advanced placement biology classes
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This study examined the effect of three schedule types on student achievement in Advanced Placement Biology classes. AP Biology test scores from students on three types of full-year schedules were analyzed to assess the impact schedule type had on student achievement. The three schedules included the block and traditional schedules, and the rotating/hybrid, a blend of the former two schedules. The results indicated the variable most closely associated with success on the AP Biology exam was the length of experience the teachers had teaching the course, regardless of schedule type. Although significant differences were seen in mean AP Biology test scores among the three schedule types, this could be explained by the relationship between instructors' experience and schedule type. Regression analysis determined the two strongest predictors of successful performance on the AP Biology exam were instructors' experience and perceived teaching style, regardless of schedule type. It appears that the economically developed suburbs, had teachers with the largest amount of experience teaching AP Biology, and these teachers reported using a direct approach to teaching, using lecture greater than 50% of the time. The results of this study also suggest when restructuring to improve student achievement, educators should examine other variables in addition to the high school schedule. Restructuring the day to allow for longer classes must be accompanied by professional staff development to allow teachers to develop new teaching methods. Most of the teachers in the suNey reported using lecture a great deal of the time, regardless of schedule type. Comments from the teachers from the various schedules revealed that the ability to add student centered, inquiry based activities and labs were dependent on adequate class time. No information on whether or not the teachers were given professional development to expand their repertoire of teaching methods when the school adopted a block or rotating hybrid schedule was obtained. Limitations to this study include the fact that there was no independent verification of teaching style as reported by the teachers in this study. This study involved only Advanced Placement Biology classes, so no generalizations can be made to other science classes.
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