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Creating a Cooperative Learning Environment at the Graduate Level Maria Giakoumopoulos, Ph.D. PowerPoint Presentation
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Creating a Cooperative Learning Environment at the Graduate Level Maria Giakoumopoulos, Ph.D.
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  1. Creating a Cooperative Learning Environment at the Graduate Level Maria Giakoumopoulos, Ph.D. METHODS BACKGROUND RESULTS LITERATURE CITED My Teaching-as-Research project stems from my experience in the fall 2010 when I taught two lectures on placental development and the maternal-fetal interface for the Endocrinology Reproductive-Physiology (ERP) 875 course to a class of 9.  The main problem I encountered was that the students did not engage in the lectures at all and rarely had questions.  I realized that since the organization of this class is to switch instructors very often and have each instructor cover their specialized topic, it can be overwhelming for students and a lot for them to take in.  In addition, the type of lecturing that occurs at this level is often a transfer of knowledge without questions posed that might help engage the students. Finally, another issue is that students are coming from diverse backgrounds in the program.  When considering the content and teaching objectives for graduate level lectures, Bloom’s Taxonomy can be considered as a guide for the learning hierarchy (1). At the graduate level, students are expected to have mastered the lower levels classified by Bloom’s Taxonomy such as knowledge and comprehension and are expected to be mastering the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (1,2). Therefore, with lack of student engagement and participation during class, it is difficult for the instructor to assess student understanding except for the results that are seen during the final exam. The cooperative learning approach has been shown to provide a greater improvement in student knowledge compared with students taught in the traditional, transfer of knowledge approach, at various levels of education (3,4,5). Cooperative learning encourages students to work together in small groups to learn rather than competing for a grade (4). One positive aspect of this approach is that students who help other students understand a concept often will establish a better understanding of the concept themselves. In addition, this small group setting may encourage participation from quieter students. Of course, the success of this approach can be largely dependent on the personality characteristics of the group members where some students are resistant to working in groups and prefer to keep their anonymity during lectures (6,7). 1. Bloom BS, Engelhart MD, Hill W, Furst EJ, and Krathwohl DR. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Cognitive Domain. New York: Longman, 1956. 2. Kasteberg SE. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Framework for Classroom Assessment. Mathematics Teacher (2003). Vol 96(6): 402-405. 3. Johnson DW and Johnson RT. What We Know About Cooperative Learning at the College Level. Cooperative Learning: The Magazine for Cooperation in Higher Education (1993). Vol 13(3): 17-18. 4. Armstrong N, Chang SM, Brickman M. Cooperative Learning in Industrial-sized Biology Classes. CBE-Life Sciences Education (2007). Vol 6: 163-171. 5. Collins KMT, Onwuegbuzie AJ, Jiao QG. Hope as a Predictor of Performance of Graduate-Level Cooperative Groups in Research Methodology Courses. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2009). Vol 21(2): 148-157. 6. Donohue SK and Richards LG. Work in Progress-Encouraging Cooperative Learning in Graduate Engineering Statistics Courses. 37th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference Session T1D-14. October 10-13, 2007, Milwaukee, WI. 7. Weimer M. Building Student Engagement: 15 Strategies for the College Classroom. The Teaching Professor, December 2009. 8. Boulos MNK, Maramba I, and Wheeler S. Wikis, blogs and podcasts: A new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. BMC Medical Education (2006). Vol 6(41). 9. Parker KR and Chao JT. Wiki as a Teaching Tool. Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objectives (2007). Vol 3: 57-72. 10. Chickering AW and Ehrmann SC. Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever. AAHE Bulletin, October, 3-6. • My teaching-as-research strategy was to design lecture material that will allowed for group discussions and time focusing on why we need to understand the topic being taught and how this applies to the “real world.” • This was done by: • Investigating a case study of a patient with a hysterectomy that became pregnant and carried her baby to term and relating this issue to placental formation/function and the interactions at the maternal-fetal interface • Providing a large animal case study in the horse that veterinarians come into contact with that would also be applicable for the proper formation of the maternal-fetal interface • The intent of using two case studies was to provide one teaching and learning approach that would be effective for students with different backgrounds. • Providing outside learning materials to students via the creation of a Wiki in an attempt to not only encourage further investigation of the areas we have covered but to also create an online community encouraging student communication • The creation of Wiki’s can be used as a collaborative learning forum where all participants can add to the information base therefore constructing their own learning and knowledge (8,9,10). • My overall scheme was to lecture on the first day using the above mentioned case studies and encouraging discussion and to lecture the second day in the traditional method by just presenting the materials. • ASSESSMENT • I tracked the number of students participating during class discussion on the case studies and compared this to the second day where traditional lecturing occurred to assess participation. • I also tracked student use of the online materials and correlate this to class participation and exam performance. • The final assessment was in the form of a survey on the student’s impression of the use of case studies and if they found the online and Wiki forum useful in studying, if the materials made them study more, and if they felt more knowledgeable because of active participation in their learning through the Wiki. • SURVEY RESULTS: • Seven out of 10 students came to class each day. A total of eight students took the survey because two students had come to only one class. • Case studies lecture: 6 students participated in class and asked specific questions. • Traditional lecture: 3 questions were asked in class. • 7 out of 8 students felt that the instructional approach was much or great help. • All of the students thought that how the lecture topics, case studies, group discussions, and readings fit together was much or great help. • Students did not comment specifically on how their learning improved by the instructional approach but rather commented on the instructional approach itself. • The Wiki was not used as I had intended because most students failed to participate and add information to the website. •  5 students said they used the Wiki as a source of information for the exam. • TAKE-HOME EXAM RESULTS: • The exam scores ranged from 40.5% to 81%. In general, the students did not produce the amount of detail that I expected for a take-home exam. • The weakest part of the answers came to a section that was covered in class and case studies were not used for that particular section. • Interestingly, some students failed to answer the question asked specifically. It almost seemed that they answered whatever they new, not what was asked. This lack of focus and attention to detail is something that I hope will be learned early on in their graduate careers because it is the difference between completing and earning a PhD and not. • Overall, most students felt a combination of traditional lecturing, followed by real-world examples and discussions help bring home the messages during lecture. OBJECTIVES TAR Question: How can technology be used as a lever to create a more cooperative learning environment for students at the graduate level resulting in a deeper understanding of the course material and increased performance on the exam? My specific goals for the students were to encourage class discussion with the use of case studies specific to the topic being taught. The aim was to use these case studies as a way to appeal to the different learners and backgrounds in the class, therefore focusing on Learning-through-Diversity. I also wanted to encourage participation in their active learning by having them visit a Wiki that I created containing information about class, readings, and the power point slides from lectures. I also encouraged the students to add information to the Wiki as they came across placental topics in their research. My goal with the Wiki was to create Learning Communities within the group. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many thanks to my internship partner Dr. Ted Golos and to DELTA staff and fellow internship seminar peers for the support and feedback during the internship and certificate process.