ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES IN THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCESeptember 26, 2008 Christa L. Colyer WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY Winston-Salem NC
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES AGENDA: Part 1: Escalating group structures – from Think-Pair-Share activities to Permanent Groups Part 2: The Jigsaw Method for active learning Part 3: Other active learning strategies – e.g. acting/role playing, student conferences, blogging Part 4: “Food for thought” Part 5: Open forum – conferee activities, questions, suggestions
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES The Case of the Floppy-Eared Rabbits: An Instance of Serendipity Gained and Serendipity Lost Bernard Barber, Renee C. Fox American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 64, Iss. 2 (Sept. 1958) 128-136 Abstract: Two distinguished medical scientists independently observed the same phenomenon in the course of their research: reversible collapse of rabbits’ ears after injection of the enzyme papain. One went on to make a discovery based on this serendipitous or chance occurrence; the other did not. Intensive tandem interviews were conducted with each of these scientists in order to discover similarities and differences in their experiences with the floppy-eared rabbits. These interview materials are analyzed for the light they shed on the process of scientific discovery in general and on the serendipity pattern in particular. 1.What one factor or personality trait might be responsible for serendipity lost in the case of one scientist and serendipity gained in the case of another scientist?
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Group Structures • Build upon “momentum” gained from Think-Pair-Share exercises • An example: Floppy-Eared Rabbit Case – → after Think-Pair-Share, require permanent groups to answer more challenging questions, such as: What characteristics and/or circumstances do the two scientists, Thomas & Kellner, share? What factors most influenced the pursuit of “floppy ears” by Kellner? By Thomas? What factors most strongly dissuaded or prevented the pursuit of “floppy ears” by Kellner? By Thomas? → Or, invoke temporary groups, with members playing the roles of Kellner, Thomas, and interviewer.
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Group Structures Some applications of permanent groups: 1. Problem-based learning. • learning content on a need-to-know basis to answer questions (rather than answering questions about required content) 2. Laboratory teams. • mastering laboratory techniques; compiling statistically- significant results. 3. “Warm-Ups” • review previous class materials; identify “trouble-spots;” initiate response to subject before new material is presented. ٭sense of community and responsibility ٭ ٭ ability to tackle larger problems ٭ ٭ develop teamwork, management, & negotiation skills ٭
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Group Structures • *first assess if groups are necessary or beneficial* • 1. Provide some mechanism for peer evaluation of group members. • 2. Hold periodic, mandatory group meetings. • e.g. “The one thing I enjoy the most about working with my group is .... “ • “The one thing I least enjoy about working with my group is ....“ • “Our group could work more effectively (in the lab) if we ...” • “Our group could work more effectively (outside of lab) if we ....” • Include components of both group and individual evaluation in overall course grade. • Make use of communication tools between classes (e.g. Blackboard “group” sites, email). • 5. Keep groups on-task with the assistance of peer tutors or graduate teaching assistants.
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Jigsawing • *group members each obtain a separate piece of information (or “piece of the puzzle”)* • *students teach and motivate other students* • *builds respect and equity (each student is necessary to the home group)* • Basic Jigsawing Strategies: • Divide the class into home groups, each with a number of members equivalent to the number of concepts to be learned. Allow home groups to convene and understand overall group task before disbanding. • Home groups send representatives to each expert group. Facilitate discussion within each expert group as they complete the assigned worksheet or task. • 3. Allow the home groups to re-convene. Each “expert” member teaches their piece of the puzzle to their home group. • 4. Follow-up with additional (individual or group) take-home questions, a quiz at the beginning of the following class, etc..
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Jigsawing • Jigsawing, An Example:Fundamental Chemical Laws and Models • 1. Define/describe the following laws or models: • Law of Conservation of Mass, Law of Definite Proportion, • Law of Multiple Proportion, Avogadro’s Hypothesis, • Plum Pudding Atomic Model, Nuclear Atom Model • Name the scientist(s) responsible for the formulation of each of the above laws or models. • Have an appreciation for the approximate chronology of events relative to one another. • 4. Understand how these fundamental chemical laws and models have influenced our current understanding of chemical reactions and matter.
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Jigsawing Jigsawing, An Example:Fundamental Chemical Laws and Models Expert Group Assignments: Expert Group #1: Plum Pudding Model Expert Group #2: (Rutherford’s) Nuclear Atom Expert Group #3: Avogadro’s Hypothesis Expert Group #4: Law of Conservation of Mass Expert Group #5: Law of Multiple Proportions Expert Group #6: Law of Definite Proportions
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Jigsawing Jigsawing, An Example:Fundamental Chemical Laws and Models Using your expert group’s knowledge, create a brief biographical sketch of your scientist and his discovery. Use this sketch to play the role of your scientist when you present your important model or theory to your home group. For example: “Let me introduce myself. I am _______________________ (scientist). I would like to describe to you the events of ___________ (date) that transpired in ____________ (place). My theory/model, now referred to as ______________________ (name of theory/model), is best explained as…_____________________________ (brief description of model/theory). Additionally, it may interest you to know that…_____________________ (trivia).”
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Role playing/acting 1. ROLE PLAYING • develop an in-depth understanding of content by assuming an alternative identity. • roles may participate in debate/hearing, gameshow, reenactment, etc. Management of strategy: → large enough groups ensure a comfortable “fit” for assigned roles → frequent use of this strategy relieves “performance anxiety” → instructor can set tone by playing his/her role convincingly Some examples: > “Trends or Consequences” gameshow (general chemistry) > “The van Deemter equation: A three act play.” (anal. chem.) > “Nobel prize commission: Structure of DNA” (first year seminar) > “Nuclear radiation” (general chemistry, science divisional)
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Student Conferences STUDENT CONFERENCES • broad exposure to content beyond regular class materials • a sense of “ownership” given to students for original research or assigned work. • opportunity to develop communication, organization & presentation skills Management of strategy: → provide sufficient lead time with regular checks on progress → organize conference as you would a real scientific meeting (including call for papers, name badges, refreshments, abstract book, invitations/publicity) → peer evaluation of presentations and content questions on exams Some examples: > “Annual Conference on Instrumental Methods” (analytical chemistry) > “Re-enactment: American Physical Society Meeting of 1971 – CERN vs. Northeastern on the A2 Particle” (first year seminar)
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Out of Class OUTSIDE OF CLASS ACTIVITIES • to provide continuity between class meetings and to maximize “time on task” • to augment the regular curriculum with special events or learning opportunities Management of strategy: → provide academic credit or other tangible acknowledgement for out-of-class requirements → tap-in to pre-existing social/educational/service programs on campus or off → draw connections between out-of-class and in-class work. Some examples: > pre-class quizzes > threaded discussions (e.g. Blackboard or email or Listserv) > University/Departmental seminar series > service learning/outreach > blogging (free accounts at blogger.com)
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Food For Thought *use food as a “hook” for technical topics, with the aim of creating a demonstration that students will better remember the topic by* To Ponder: Is the use of food not tied to a specific learning objective simply like ‘bribery’ or ‘dog training’?
ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES: Open Forum for Discussion Challenge: • Consider lectures you have delivered this past week – Which, if any, of these active learning strategies could be employed for the same topic? General concerns: • classroom management, content coverage, evaluation, etc.