PLB 802: Pathways to Scientific Teaching
This seminar for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows taught about developing and implementing learner-centered instructional material and teaching strategies for a biology courses. We learned strategies to create more active learning modules as well as assessments that aligned with learning objectives. Throughout the semester, we received feedback from our peers and the instructors on how to design effective active learning modules. We also created our own active learning module that was implemented in a 100-level biology course the following semester.
Many instructors find it "easy" to simply lecture to students. This was the way they were taught, and this is how they think teaching is effective. While this may be the easy way to teach, it is certainly not the best way to encourage student participation and increase comprehension. In this course, I learned the importance of a student-centered engaged learning environment and found that it is attainable even in large classes.
I have included our final project active learning module on Epigenetics which highlights teaching strategies we learned in the course. The final project included creating learning objectives and an active learning module that was implemented in a 100-level biology course at Michigan State University.
RATIONALE FOR EACH ARTIFACT(S):
I included our final project because it shows ways to engage students even in a 100-level large course. Students created models, wrote figure captions, and predicted outcomes based on previous data. These activities allowed them to be active-learners working in groups. I also included this artifact because I have used parts of this presentation for teaching demonstrations for on-campus interviews for faculty positions.
MATERIAL(S) YOU DEVELOPED DURING THE COURSE.
Active learning in-class demonstration. Nicholas Hobbs and I worked together to create an in-class active learning module where participants had to create an active learning activity on specific biology topics.
RATIONALE FOR EACH MATERIAL(S):
I included this active learning activity because it was very practical. Instructors in Biology will have to find creative ways to turn somewhat mundane topics into something that students can be engaged in. The participants were very creative and we really enjoyed implementing active learning activities.
In this course I learned so many valuable techniques to strengthen my teaching skills. One major skill I learned is to engage students often. I am now thinking about more creative way to get the students engaged during lecture, rather than just standing at the front of the classroom and talk for an hour. I also learned about how formative assessment can help an instructor gauge student learning in a different way than the standard written exam can. I will use assignments like minute papers to determine what kinds of concepts students are mastering and what they might still struggle with or have misconceptions about. Another skill I learned was how to design course objectives. Using Bloom's Taxonomy, I can now identify action words that match the goals I have for student learning.