Author Archives: dgerasim

IClickers

Caldwell, J. E. (2007). Clickers in the large classroom: Current research and best-practice tips. CBE— Life Sciences Education, 6(1), 9–20. http://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.06-12-0205

Herreid, C. F. (2006). “Clicker” Cases: Introducing Case Study Teaching into Large Classrooms. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36(2), 43–47.

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Peer Instruction

Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Sampson, J. (1999). Peer Learning and Assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 24(4), 413–426. http://doi.org/10.1080/0260293990240405

Choe, S. W. T., & Drennan, P. M. (2001). Analyzing scientific literature using a jigsaw group activity. Journal of College Science Teaching, 30(5), 328–330.

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SIMPLE Mini-Poster Session at Mason’s ITL Conference

The SIMPLE project will be holding a mini poster session at Mason’s Innovations in Teaching and Learning (ITL) Conference (http://ctfe.gmu.edu/professional-development/itl/) this fall. The conference will take place on Friday, September 16, and our mini poster session will be part of the larger ITL poster session from 4:15 – 5:45 pm in the newly renovated Fenwick Library (drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served). The SIMPLE poster session serves as part of dissemination efforts of the SIMPLE project to the Mason community.

At the session, project participants will present mini-posters (16 x 24 inches) about interactive teaching strategies they have tried (or continue to use) in their classes during the past few years. Printed copies of design memos will accompany the posters where possible and will be distributed to the interested attendees. (Electronic versions of design memos are also available here: http://simple.onmason.com/category/design-memos/).

Join us at our SIMPLE poster session! We look forward to seeing everyone!

Class Debate, an Exercise

What is the strategy? Why did I select this strategy?

The strategy is to prepare for and then to have a full class debate. Having a debate is an opportunity for students to research one aspect of a topic in depth. They can become the expert in that part of their subject and then have the chance to defend this aspect to their peers. In the process they will also have to become familiar with the aspects of the topic that their peers are studying so that they have a broader view of the subject as a whole.

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Mini-Projects

Mini collaborative projects with presentations:

These are exercises done in groups of 2-4 that have to be presented to the class at the end of the given time. The goal is to get the students thinking about the class ideas and exploring on their own. The need to put together a couple of slides to present to the class helps them to organize their thoughts and to keep them on task. An example is given below.

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Mitotic and Meiotic Chromosome Movement Demonstration

What is the strategy?

At George Mason University (GMU) all biology majors must take and pass cell biology (Cell Structure and Function) with a grade of C or better prior to taking genetics.  Students are introduced to the cell cycle and meiosis in their cell biology course, however, many students enter class with misconceptions about the cell cycle and meiosis.  Some of these misconceptions or misunderstandings include mitosis makes up the entire cell cycle; accurate depiction of chromosome movement during mitosis and meiosis; the difference between mitosis and meiosis.  The genetics course offered at GMU begins with the cell cycle and meiosis and if students do not have a firm understanding of the topics, they can quickly fall behind.  For this reason, we developed a two-part activity that will increase understanding of these two challenging concepts.

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Online Office hours

What is the strategy?

The strategy was to hold online problem solving and question and answer sessions over Blackboard’s Collaborate to help increase the quantity and quality of student contact hours.  Multiple online sessions were scheduled during both normal office hours as well as later in the day to provide more opportunities for non-conventional students.  It should be noted that the course was a hybrid distance learning course and a significant number of students were employed.    

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Research immersion through ‘Elevator Speech’ role play

What is the strategy?

Undergraduate students in a mid- or upper-level biology course are tasked with identifying a research laboratory in the United States that has an active, federally funded research project using the NSF Award search website. Once they identify a laboratory with a funded project, the student must conduct research to understand the proposed research well-enough to present an elevator speech as though they are an undergraduate researcher in the lab. Elevator speeches have received considerable attention lately, with several scientific organizations (e.g., ASCB) providing international competitions for ‘best elevator speech’. Variants on the ‘Elevator Speech’ include the Three Minute Thesis (3MT), which seeks to encourage graduate and undergraduate researchers to distill their thesis or dissertation projects into an approachable, short format talk for a broad, non-scientific audience. George Mason University has recently begun participating the Science Slam event, which although is not short-format, is a competition to present research in an interesting way to a non-scientifically trained public.

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Partial Classroom Flipping

What is the strategy?

In CEIE XXX, I implemented partial classroom flipping. The classes combined had 55 engineering students. The strategy involves using some class time to work in class exercises (ICE problems). The problems were proposed by the instructor either during class or near the end of class. The students were allowed to work together to solve the problem for approximately 5-10 minutes. The instructor assisted the students in answering questions and checking answers. After time was up, the student who completed the problem correctly and the fastest wrote the solution on the board and also explained the solution to the class.

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Evaluate scientific information

Introduction

This design memo describes a strategy implemented in Introductory Biology for non-majors during the Fall 2014 Semester.  This exercise was implemented in the lecture portion of the course over a series of 3 different lectures throughout the semester. The goal of the exercise was to help non science majors better evaluate scientific information as well as become engaged in the subject matter.

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Peer Review as part of the Undergraduate Lab Report Assignment

Introduction

This design memo describes a strategy implemented in the Introduction to Environmental Science and Policy Courses during the Spring 2015 Semester.  This peer review component was incorporated into an existing lab report assignment with the goal of increasing student understanding of the scientific method as well as the lab activity. At the end of the semester students and faculty were surveyed regarding their experience.

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Use of the Shark Tank model to solve a current conservation issue

What is the strategy?

The strategy is to use the model of the television show ‘Shark Tank’ as a way to illustrate a solution to a current conservation issue.  The ‘Shark Tank’ model is one where entrepreneurs have three minutes to pitch an idea to millionaires who have available start-up capital.  I used this as an exercise in a Conservation Biology classroom in the Spring of 2015.  Critical thinking and creativity are emphasized in this strategy. Students are required to research an issue, devise a possible solution (or use a solution to fundraise), determine project costs, develop a project timeline, create a sample press kit, and present the idea to the class.  The class are the millionaires with the $100,000,000 venture capital to enable the project.  After all presentations, classmates vote on the project they wish to fund. The project that ‘wins’ receives two extra points toward the final grade.

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Means of engaging students with peer reviewed journal articles

What is the strategy?

The strategy in this class is to help students become active learners.  In this class students really lead the classroom topics and discussion.  Students are required to research a topic, present on the topic, and field questions from their fellow class mates.  The teacher takes a hands off approach and only intervenes when questions arise that the presenters cannot answer.

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Communication skills development in large lecture using notecards

What is the strategy?

During the semester, notecards were used to foster student engagement in several ways.  In general, five strategies were used: (1) Randomly calling students and asking questions (about 20 cards drawn per class), (2) assigning students to bring questions to the following class meeting (this method was used about three times during the semester, names were randomly drawn before class and the list displayed on the overhead), (3) giving students the option to be asked a question or to ask the professor a question during the current lecture (this depended on the lecture topic and the level of discourse in the class session; this strategy was mixed with the first method of randomly calling students), (4) during peer discussions, students were told to discuss lecture content or solve problems with their peers (these discussions would take about 5 min. from initiation to students reporting out); the student whose card was drawn was the reporter who explained the small group dialogue (typically 3 cards were drawn, to hear report-outs from 3 groups), and (5) using a similar strategy as 4, except the peer discussion was centered on the class solving iclicker questions from chapter study guides.

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