Thursday, December 10, 2015

Teaching Undergraduate Science Majors How to Read Biochemistry Primary Literature: A Flipped Classroom Approach

Reading scholarly articles is a crucial information literacy skill for undergraduate science majors. In previous years students were required to read scholarly articles and to write a summary report in an upper-level biochemistry course. Students expressed difficulties in reading scholarly articles and identifying the appropriate information needed. To remedy the situation, an integrated approach to teaching information literacy skills was developed and implemented.
The biochemistry course at our institution is typically comprised of students majoring in Chemistry and Biology, with varying degrees of prior training in information literacy skills. Some have no previous experience with reading scholarly papers, while others have written several review articles in other science courses. The class meets twice a week for a 75 minute lecture. Unfortunately, the content-rich nature of this course precludes extensive student training by library staff.
A flipped information literacy session appeared to us as the best possible solution to accommodate the different information needs and prepare students for the research assignment within a limited amount of time. The methods of flipped classrooms have been implemented in various disciplines (Bull, Ferster & Kjellstrom, 2012; Engin & Donanci, 2014; Findlay-Thompson & Mombourquette, 2014; Forsey, Low, & Glance, 2013; Hantla, 2014; Strayer, 2012; Youngkin, 2014) and in library instruction sessions (Arnold-Garza, 2014; Datig & Ruswick, 2013; Lemmer, 2013). Through the flipped method, students gain the foundational knowledge and skill sets needed prior to the class meeting. This allows the faculty members to select a few topics that warrant discussion, lessening the time spent in lecture and engaging students in learning through interactive activities during the lecture period. Read article...

How Would You Answer These 9 Reimagine Education Questions?

Congratulations. You are at a conference. You’ve been asked to do a 15 minute video interview. You have been given the questions before the interview. How would you answer? . . . Question 4: Is there an innovation/idea/movement/methodology that excites you in terms of the future of education? Yes. A liberal arts education.
A liberal arts education is based on the idea that the most important part of an education is learning how to learn. In our liberal arts schools we explicitly focus on developing skills in communication and collaboration. Integrity, self-reliance, and independence of thought are all essential elements to a liberal arts education. A comfort with risk taking, and the ability to make a positive impact on our community’s and the world. These will be the skills that will be essential in the cognitive economy of the 21st century. Read article...

Student Course Evaluations Get an 'F'

NPR piece about the viability of course evaluations.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

What's Next in Active Learning?

Many universities have implemented active learning classrooms (ALCs) or are currently planning these spaces. The University of Oklahoma has seen three years of increasing investment in ALCs through dozens of projects. Learn how OU has addressed frequently asked stakeholder questions and discuss the potential questions of tomorrow. View event details...

The High School/College Writing Classroom Disconnect

I believe there is a disconnect between writing as it is taught in secondary education and what happens in the college composition classroom.
I know I am not the only instructor who believes that the early part of the semester (and beyond) involves a kind of “deprogramming” of some beliefs and habits that have been inculcated prior to students arriving in college. As a rule (to which there are exceptions), many students come armed with a series of writing “rules” that are meant to be followed, or else. Essays are five paragraphs long, and should never contain “I,” “you,” or “we.” Some have been told that each paragraph should be limited to 5 (or 7 or 9) sentences, and that all concluding paragraphs start with “In conclusion.”
These rules are not purposeless. They can help give writing shape, and can guard against some of the worst excesses that writers of any age and experience may indulge in[1].
And when it comes to the kinds of high stakes standardized assessments students are primarily subjected to, writing to these rules is a veritable necessity.
I do not mean my criticisms as an indictment of the necessary, difficult, deeply unappreciated work of primary and secondary educators. To the extent there is a disconnect, I think it is the fault of higher education which has done very little to communicate the purposes and processes of the college writing classroom to the larger world. I don’t think we do it particularly well even inside our own college and university communities.

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How, and Why, You Should Have Students Assess Themselves

As the end of another semester approaches, a teacher’s mind naturally turns to evaluations. This term, in addition to having students fill out the standard forms about your course, why not ask them to evaluate themselves as well? There are many reasons to have students complete self-evaluations at semester’s end, but perhaps the best is that the exercise encourages metacognition. I’ve written before about metacognition — essentially “thinking about one’s thinking” — particularly in the context of getting students to consider their approach to our courses as they progress. But metacognition is a significantly valuable tool at the end of a course, when there are so many opportunities for self-reflection. At that point, students have been working on the same subject for more than three months; before they move on to other courses, and other professors, give them time and space to reflect on what they’ve done, and how they’ve done it. A self-evaluation is a great way to get students to assess how they approached the course with an eye to improving their learning strategies in the future. It can also help cement the particular skills they learned in your course — in effect, they remind themselves of the skills they’ve acquired, and may be more likely to put them to use in the future. Additionally, asking students to reflect on their own practices during your course may make them better equipped to evaluate your teaching in a way that accurately reflects how much they’ve learned.
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