Indexed on: 03 Nov '19Published on: 02 Nov '19Published in: CBE life sciences education
Mastery of jargon terms is an important part of student learning in biology and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics domains. In two experiments, we investigated whether prelecture quizzes enhance memory for jargon terms, and whether that enhanced familiarity can facilitate learning of related concepts that are encountered during subsequent lectures and readings. Undergraduate students enrolled in neuroanatomy and physiology courses completed 10-minute low-stakes quizzes with feedback on jargon terms either online (experiment 1) or using in-class clickers (experiment 2). Quizzes occurred before conventional course instruction in which the terms were used. On exams occurring up to 12 weeks later, we observed improved student performance on questions that targeted memory of previously quizzed jargon terms and their definitions relative to questions on terms that were not quizzed. This pattern occurred whether those questions were identical (experiment 1) or different (experiment 2) from those used during quizzing. Benefits of jargon quizzing did not consistently generalize, however, to exam questions that assessed conceptual knowledge but not necessarily jargon knowledge. Overall, this research demonstrates that a brief and easily implemented jargon-quizzing intervention, deliverable via Internet or in-class platforms, can yield substantial improvements in students' course-relevant scientific lexica, but does not necessarily impact conceptual learning.