Innovations Golden Apple Grant Recipients
Final Reports April 2002
to Promote Learning of Students in the Medical Laboratory
McLaughlin, Medical Lab Technology, Medical Campus
project applies standardized instrument surveys to evaluate
the effectiveness of students’ test taking abilities and
learning style preferences. Once these abilities and preferences
are identified, learning intervention strategies will be
applied to students targeted with major deficiencies. The
Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) and the
Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles Model are the survey instruments
to be used in this endeavor.
This project was
developed in response to the overall low academic performance
of students pursuing a career in Medical Laboratory Technology
(MLT) at Miami- Dade Community College. The investigator
formulated long term goals that address these academic
performance issues and that are pivotal to promoting students’ academic
success. The goals of this study are: to increase students’ retention
by five percent, increase average pass rate among program
students by twenty five percent and increase the national
registry examination pass rate by twenty-five percent.
The investigators proposed that these goals could be realized
over the life of the program (20 months) if testing instruments
are used as a means of assessing and evaluating students’ study
skills and learning styles. The two tools used are the
Learning and Study Strategies Instruments (LASSI) and the
Learning Styles (LS), Dunn and Dunn Model. The LASSI measures
the factors which determine the effectiveness of students’ test-taking
abilities and study practices i.e. attitude, motivation,
concentration, time management, anxiety, information processing,
selecting main ideas, study aids, self-testing and test-strategies.
It consists of pre and post evaluation surveys and intervention
modules. The LS by Dunn and Dunn measures environmental,
emotional, sociological, physiological and psychological
factors that affect the way in which a person learns new
information that is challenging (Appendix 1).
The Dunn and Dunn and Price Personal Productivity Preference
Survey (PEPS) was administered to incoming MLT cohort freshmen
(20) and faculty (4). Individualized learning styles report and
group summary report were generated and interpreted by a learning
styles consultant. The group summary report generated from the
survey provided information to the faculty on four parameters
that affect the way in which the majority of the students learn
new and difficulty information. These are. Structure (59%), Authority
Figure Present (71 %) and Tactile Perceptual Modalities (59%).
The figure in parenthesis indicates the percent of students that
need these parameters in order to learn new and difficult information.
Additional information on the testing and results of Dunn and
Dunn may be viewed in Appendix 2.
The Pre LASSI is a 77- question survey, which is used as a diagnostic
tool. Following Pre- LASSI, intervention modules were administered
to students obtaining low score on the survey. The Post LASSI
survey that serves as a gauge of the effectiveness of the intervention
modules was then used to examine if the intervention modules
had produced an improvement. Results of the Pre LASSI survey
indicated that at all twenty participants demonstrated at least
one deficiency in the factors that determine the effectiveness
of learning strategies. The intervention modules were completed
by only forty five percent of the participants (9/20). The Post-
LASSI surveys are assigned only to those students who completed
LASSI intervention (Appendix 3).
At the completion of the Learning Styles Surveys and the Learning
Strategy Surveys, the investigator wanted to know if the prescribed
intervention strategies applied to the students, might be having
any effect on the project goals. Results indicate that the retention
rate of the students in the project is seventy-two (72%) percent
as compared to seventy-one (71%) percent and seventy three percent
(73 %) for 2001 and 2000 respectively. (Fig 1. Appendix 4).
Results for the pass rate for isolated courses that are usually
offered to program freshmen indicated that there were no changes
in the pass rate with moderate intervention.
Results indicate that there is a two percent (2%) increase in
the retention rate and between four to seven percent (4-7
%) increase in the average pass rate between freshmen of
2002 and the two previous years. Although these results are
not up to the projected goals of five (5%) and twenty five
percent (25 %) respectively, they still provide some measure
of success for intervention strategies. The investigator
is still compiling results for the national registry examination,
which will not be available until the students have completed
the program. The results when obtained should satisfy goal
Detailed results supporting the goals are stated below:
Goal 1: To increase student’s retention by 5%
Figure 1, Appendix 4, refers to a comparison of the retention
rates of in program freshmen covering the two major semesters:
Spring and Fall 2000, 2001 and 2002. The results indicate that
there was little or no difference in the retention rates between
the cohort group and the freshmen of previous years. No data
is available for those students who withdrew from the course
(or program) within the first week of instruction. Results are
consistent in the period studied and demonstrates that intervention
strategies used have very little demonstrable effect to date.
However, with continued intervention the investigator predict
positive results. As evidenced by the data, not enough time was
assigned to the project for the teaching and learning strategies
to be effective.
.Goal 2: To increase the average pass rate among program students
by twenty five percent.
Table 1, Appendix 5 refers to a compilation of the pass rates
of the freshmen students of the following courses: Hematology
lecture, Hematology laboratory, Urinalysis lecture/laboratory,
Introduction to MLT and Laboratory Mathematics/ Quality Control
over the last 3 years (2001-2003). Theses courses are offered
to the all-incoming freshmen during the first semester of the
program. These results vary from year to year with no set pattern
of predictability. The data from the year 2002 included those
freshmen that did not participate in the study and so did not
benefit from intervention. However, when these figures were corrected
to include only the cohort group, the percent pass rate increased
slightly in most courses evaluated. The investigator has concluded
that it is too premature to believe that intervention might have
played a role in some of these results even though positive.
Instead, the results from this project will provide a baseline,
from which future outcomes may be measured.
Goal 3: To increase the National registry examination pass rate
by twenty five percent.
This goal can only be measured at the end of the program after
the students have graduated from mdc and have taken the national
Intervention, which is the cornerstone of this project, started
with the application of the individualized LS survey reports
by students in the cohort group in September 2002. However, intervention
of LASSI proved to be more challenging and time consuming for
the students than previously anticipated. Some students were
still working on the modules up to January 2003. Furthermore,
less than fifty percent of the cohort completed the modules;
the majority acceded only after bonus points and extended time
were offered as motivators. The feedback from surveys conducted
(Appendices 6 and 7) showed that students considered that LASSI
time consuming that required detailed well-thought out answers.
Only two percent of the students polled considered English as
their primary language. It is noteworthy, that the students,
who completed the modules, are highly self-motivated and are
the ones that usually pass their courses. The investigators are
aware that in order to reap the full benefit of intervention,
enough time is needed for the students to completely assimilate
and integrate the knowledge gained from intervention tools. The
ultimate test, however, will lie in the results of the national
registry examination (ASCP) which will then be correlated to
scores of the College Proficiency Test (CPT). The CPT scores
(Appendix 8) will also be compared to students” ASCP results
of the two previous years to provide a measure of success.
• The investigator is suggesting that intervention and monitoring should
be continued with the cohort group. A comparative evaluation should be carried
out at the end of every semester until the completion of the project in order
to fully appreciate whether intervention was adequate and successful.
• Early Intervention similar to the ones used in this project would probably
not affect the outcomes of the grades and hence the retention of some of the
more challenging courses studied. The investigators are suggesting that some
students were not prepared academically in terms of not having all the prerequisites
courses. Furthermore, it is well documented that learning styles instruments
such as LASSI and Dunn and Dunn do not measure cognitive abilities. All efforts
should be made to ensure that a student is prepared for a challenging course
by insisting that all core requirements are met before allowing the student to
proceed in the program.
• Some of the more challenging courses should be divided into two sections
to reduce the enormity of the course work to the freshman. The more difficult
courses should be offered in the second year of the program or broken down into
||I had the opportunity
to share the preliminary project results with colleagues,
staff and administrators at Medical Center Campus Spring
convocation (January 2003).
I will be working closely with MLT colleagues to share final project
report with faculty and administrators at Professional Development
Day. More importantly, I will be sharing all findings and recommendations
with faculty in the MLT, Histologic Technology and Phlebotomy departments.
My long-term goal is to compile and implement an action plan for
incorporating learning and study strategies in the curricula. This
action plan will provide a systematic and standardized method of
how students learning styles should be assessed and the faculty’s
role in the scheme of things. The written plan should provide guidelines
for new faculty and will promote continuity from year to year.
The plan would be evaluated by soliciting formal and informal feedback
from the students involved.