Proposal Title

160 students, 20 groups, 1 TA: transforming a large classroom into a small classroom-like environment.

Session Type

Presentation

Room

P&A Rm 148

Start Date

July 2015

Keywords

large classroom, group project, Moodle Wiki, non-major biology, scientific literacy, peer-evaluation

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

Class size limits the way students learn. In small classes, students receive plenty of feedbacks from instructors. Nurturing interaction with instructors and peers are critical components of the small classroom environment. This dynamic is completely changed in a large classroom, where individual feedback is almost non-existent.

This presentation explores group projects as a way to manufacture a small-classroom like environment in a large classroom in non-major introductory biology. With a class of 160, students are divided into 20 groups, each consisting of 8 students. The final goal is to create collaborative Wiki pages by presenting health information from scientific research articles. For many, this is their first exposure to scientific literature. Students are forced to interact with other group members throughout the term via a number of online and face-to-face group activities. Feedback is given to groups rather than individual students. This is analogous to having 20 students in a class. Each group receives plenty of feedback from the instructor, TA and students from other groups. Projects are evaluated entirely by peer-evaluation. This group project has transformed the way students interact with the instructor and peers. Through this project, students learn key components of evaluating scientific literature in a safe nurturing environment, while learning the art of successful collaboration.

Although benefits of group and project-based learning have been well documented, it is rarely adapted to intro-level science courses, possibly due to perceived challenges. How can we overcome the challenges? I invite participants to engage in problem-solving discussions on group projects.

Elements of Engagement

Problem-solving, brain storming, discussion session about the challenges for group projects.

Group of two or three

1. Participants are asked to list the challenges for group projects.

2. Share the list with other participants. Select a few for the next discussion.

3. Each group is assign to solve one of the challenges from the list. They can get another group's help if necessary.

4. Share some of the ideas.

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Jul 10th, 2:30 PM

160 students, 20 groups, 1 TA: transforming a large classroom into a small classroom-like environment.

P&A Rm 148

Class size limits the way students learn. In small classes, students receive plenty of feedbacks from instructors. Nurturing interaction with instructors and peers are critical components of the small classroom environment. This dynamic is completely changed in a large classroom, where individual feedback is almost non-existent.

This presentation explores group projects as a way to manufacture a small-classroom like environment in a large classroom in non-major introductory biology. With a class of 160, students are divided into 20 groups, each consisting of 8 students. The final goal is to create collaborative Wiki pages by presenting health information from scientific research articles. For many, this is their first exposure to scientific literature. Students are forced to interact with other group members throughout the term via a number of online and face-to-face group activities. Feedback is given to groups rather than individual students. This is analogous to having 20 students in a class. Each group receives plenty of feedback from the instructor, TA and students from other groups. Projects are evaluated entirely by peer-evaluation. This group project has transformed the way students interact with the instructor and peers. Through this project, students learn key components of evaluating scientific literature in a safe nurturing environment, while learning the art of successful collaboration.

Although benefits of group and project-based learning have been well documented, it is rarely adapted to intro-level science courses, possibly due to perceived challenges. How can we overcome the challenges? I invite participants to engage in problem-solving discussions on group projects.