A Student-Choice Model to Address Diverse Needs and Promote Active Learning

  • Travis R. McDowellEmail author
  • Emmalou T. Schmittzehe
  • Amanda J. Duerden
  • Dan Cernusca
  • Harvest Collier
  • Klaus Woelk


A student-choice model course redesign was used to counteract a large increase in student enrollment, improve the quality of instruction, and preserve student success. This model is an instructional technique that allows students to choose how to engage in a course. Using this model in a first-semester college-level general chemistry course, online options were created to augment the traditional face-to-face course. The traditional lecture time was reduced from 3 to 2 h per week while the traditional recitation time was increased from 1 to 2 h per week. The recitation component was also transitioned from a supplemental lecture session into a problem-solving active-learning component. A mandatory rotation between face-to-face and online options at the start of the semester was necessary to assist students in making an informed choice about what options best fit their needs. Pre- and post-redesign student performance data (2008–2016) and post-redesign student enrollment data (2012–2016) were evaluated. Course performance was maintained and often improved in post-redesign years, and was generally equivalent in the different course combinations.


STEM education General chemistry Gatekeeper course Collaborative learning Blended instruction Student-choice model 



Guidance in course redesign was provided by the National Center for Academic Transformation. The authors thank the Missouri University of Science & Technology’s Educational Technology Division for assistance with the implementation of necessary teaching technology.


Funding for this project was provided to KW by the State of Missouri (Governor’s Large-Enrollment Multi-Section Redesign Initiative), by the University of Missouri System (Technology-supported Active-learning Course Redesign), and by the Missouri S&T Provost Office (General Chemistry I Buffet-Model Whole-Course Redesign), and to ES by a Missouri S&T Provost’s eFellows Grant (Tailoring Resources and Increasing Accessibility for Students in General Chemistry). This work was funded by the Missouri Learning Commons, the University of Missouri System, the Office of the Provost at Missouri University of Science & Technology, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology Chemistry Department.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The research uses large-scale secondary datasets. No data were directly collected from human participants, and data are not traceable to individual participants. All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee.

Supplementary material

10956_2019_9768_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (271 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 270 kb)
10956_2019_9768_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (292 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 292 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Travis R. McDowell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emmalou T. Schmittzehe
    • 1
  • Amanda J. Duerden
    • 1
  • Dan Cernusca
    • 2
  • Harvest Collier
    • 1
  • Klaus Woelk
    • 1
  1. 1.Chemistry DepartmentMissouri University of Science & TechnologyRollaUSA
  2. 2.School of PharmacyNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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