Integrative Teaching to Develop SCALE-UP (Student Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) in General Biology I Nora E. Demers, Charles W. Gunnels IV, and Joanna Salapska-Gelleri Whitaker Center for STEM Education, Florida Gulf Coast University [email protected] Sample worksheet filled out by the same student after a directed water science activity and integrative lecture. Abstract The ultimate goal of educating students is to help create learners with a greater appreciation and understanding of the material as well as developing life-long learners. In our section of Biology 1 at Florida Gulf Coast University, we attempted to enhance our student’s scientific skill set and content knowledge as well as their quantitative and critical thinking skills in order to improve their success in upper division coursework. We accomplished our goals by developing an integrative teaching approach, where we created classes based on seamless transitions between traditional lectures, hands-on activities, laboratory experiments, and classroom discussions in a team-taught large-section class. For example, hands-on activities punctuated traditional lecture that were then enhanced with student discussion and feedback. This integrative design allowed us to test our assumptions about how well we covered the material through immediate feedback using the hands-on activities and classroom discussions. Experimental labs were used to emphasize and reinforce concepts, but we were also vigilant to ensure that the labs also strengthened the student’s quantitative evaluation of results as well as developing an understanding of experimental design, including the use of treatments and controls. 3) On-line quizzes covering readings and labs helped ensure students came to class prepared to learn. We gave our students an opportunity to take a collaborative test in groups of 2-3 after completing a traditional individual assessment. These group tests helped students solidify their critical thinking skills via discussions to achieve a greater understanding of the topic as well as improve their test taking skills. The diversity of teaching styles addressed the different learning style of students, allowing each student to benefit from different instructional techniques. This collaboration also allowed us, as team-teachers, to share and evaluate our favorite teaching strategies as well as content examples, skills, and assessments. We evaluated the effectiveness of this integrative approach through comparison of grades and retention among different sections of Biology 1, pre- and post-tests, student reflection of learning, and student evaluations. Participants Undergraduate students at Florida Gulf Coast University, enrolled in General Biology I, a science course for students majoring in science and various health professions that focuses on cellular and sub-cellular biological concepts. SCALE-UP room - Nine tables of 9 students each Assessment Fundamental Concepts in Biology Chemical Properties of Water Lecture/ Hands-On Activity Integration Functional Groups and Organic Molecules Example This student’s pre-test worksheet was blank. (PowerPoint Presentation: Blue = Lecture & Red = Hands-On Activity) Home Assignment Pop Quiz Students were asked to fill out the worksheet a month after they first learned about water, corresponding to the start of the DNA replication unit when the biological importance of hydrogen and covalent bonding is demonstrated. Students’ responses on the worksheets were evaluated by the investigators. Responses were rated on a 3-point Likert scale ranging from 0 to 2, where 0 indicated no response, 1 indicated some comprehension, and 2 indicated a complete understanding. We observed significant improvement from pre-test understanding to home assignment and pop-quiz (p<.0001). Students who participated in an integrated lecture/ hand’s-on activity also achieved better retention of information on the pop-quiz than a control group who were exposed solely to a traditional lecture (p<.0001). Slide 1: Hydrocarbons consist of carbon atoms attached to hydrogen atoms. They are very stable and form the backbone of organic compounds. Functional groups are often covalently bonded to the hydrocarbons and are very important in determining the chemical behavior of the molecule they are attached to. Slide 2: During this activity you will be making a number of different functional groups and organic molecules. You will need to use the diagrams in your lecture notes and textbook (Chapters 4 & 5) to guide these activities. Work in groups of three. Each of you will make each molecule unless otherwise indicated. Slide 3: Use the ball and stick models to build a hydroxyl group (―OH) and then diagram it (pg. 64 – 65, Fig. 4.10). Slide 4: Hydroxyl groups are found in sugars and alcohols. One biologically important alcohol is glycerol. It is an important building block of lipids. Slide 5: Use the ball and stick models to build and then diagram a glycerol molecule (pg 75, Fig 5.11). What type of macromolecule is glycerol (Chapter 5)? You will make this again later to make your phospholipids. Slide 6 – end: other functional group activities integrated with lecture information. Notice that we standardized the lecture notes so that each hands-on activity and classroom discussion was presented in red text. This provided the students with an immediate clue to switch to an active strategy. This integrative approach of bouncing between activity and lecture took over 60 minutes to cover all the functional groups. Students seemed to appreciate the guidance of lecture as well as the opportunity to build the molecules themselves. A worksheet with more macromolecules to build followed the integrated lecture/activity. Assessment We offered students the opportunity to either take “group tests” or correct false statements in true/false questions for bonus points on unit exams. Students taking the “group test” completed a second set of multiple choice questions after taking the “individual” test. The group tests provided students with the chance to improve their grade slightly, but more importantly they discussed their understanding of the material with each other and spent more time on task during this most critical period immediately following a test. Conclusion It is possible to make small changes to traditional teaching strategies that result in a more active experience for the students, which improves grades, retention, and students experience as indicated by higher instructor evaluations. In addition, implementation of integrative teaching strategies more appropriately addresses diverse learning styles. Typically we used activities and classroom discussions to introduce or reinforce information relayed in the lecture format rather than relying wholly on activities or classroom discussions to cover the content. A common, and appropriate concern, is that there has to be some content lost as a result of the time allowed for students to be actively engaged during class time. We cannot deny that some topics were not covered at all. More commonly, lost, however, was the depth and breadth of examples used to try to explain particular concepts or the technique that was used to convey the topic. Activities & Labs Groups of three students work together on hands-on activities and labs. Labs organized with 3 sets of supplies per table of 9 students. Acknowledgement The investigators are grateful to the Whitaker Center, the Creative course redesign in General Education Faculty Grant Program at FGCU, and Cameron Whitwright,who helped make this presentation possible.