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Burke, Christopher

Contact information/Personal Intro/Bio, etc.

National Centre for Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability

Australian Maritime College

University of Tasmania

Locked Bag 1370

Launceston

Tasmania 7250

Australia

C.Burke@utas.edu.a 

           

My Biology Scholars Research Project

Title: An examination of the efficacy of Enquiry-based Learning for improving student scientific thought.     
Project Abstract

I have implemented Enquiry-based Learning (EBL) in my microbiology units to an extent, and have evaluated the approach in a number of ways: student opinions of their own learning, peer observation of teaching, my self reflection of the teaching and learning activities and comparing final grades versus level of assessment in the final exam questions. I have evaluated exams (for 1 year before and 3 after the introduction of EBL) according to the SOLO taxonomy and this has indicated that, although student grade distributions are similar, the level of assessment has increased. That is the exams are qualitatively harder, requiring students to work at higher cognitive level. What remains to be done is an assessment of the student answers in the exams to confirm that they are indeed working at higher cognitive levels with the EBL approach.   1. Context of problem

        

What resources/references have you found helpful?

  My most valuable resource thus far is:

B         Biggs, J., 2003. Teaching for Quality Learning at University (2nd ed.). The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press 309pp.

Br        Brookfield, S., 1995. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. Jossey Bass San Francisco 296 pp.

    

  On the <Bibliography> page there is an annotated bibliography of several articles relevant to my project on the use of enquiry-based learning.

What is your approach and/or what evidence will you gather?

  Project methodology synopsis.

I have implemented an enquiry-based learning approach in the microbiology units that I teach, to an extent, and have evaluated the approach in a number of ways: student opinions of their own learning, peer observation of teaching, my self reflection of the teaching and learning activities and comparing final grades versus level of assessment in the exam. I have evaluated exams (for years before and after the introduction of EBL) according to the SOLO taxonomy and this has indicated that student grade distributions are similar, but the level of assessment has increased.

  Link to <Findings, Methods> page for more detailed information on methods and results to date. 

You will have an assignment due in October which requires you to discuss methodology and results more thoroughly.

What results have emerged ?
  Where to?
To do

Apply SOLO evaluation to student answers to confirm or not cognitive level data.

Greatly increased student engagement with content:

  • self, peer, my observations.
Potential problems
  1. Content reduction is large.
    1. Concerns me and colleagues.
      1. crux: cognitive load associated with learning process vs content.   
      2. Importance of scaffolding.
    2. Learning objectives emphasise content or process?
  2. Students MUST be taught how to learn the discipline.
    1. Clear signposting within course needed.
  3. Why do some students struggle?
    1. Where do they come from?
  4. Extension to larger classes difficult?
Link to <Discussion> page for more detailed analysis and thoughts (under construction).
My project is described in my SoTL workshop presentation.
What information may be found in your Appendices?

  Do you have examples of student work, links to projects, explanations of jargon particular to your project?

Biography

I am a senior lecturer in Aquatic Microbiology and have been teaching and researching at UTas since 1990. At various times I have taught general, medical, environmental and applied microbiology to science and nursing students. Currently I am teaching general and environmental microbiology to second year students and aquatic ecology to first years. I am the degree coordinator within the NCMCRS, which means that I approve all student enrolments, provide guidance to students who are not performing well and verify all potential graduands of the course. I am also the chair of the Learning and Teaching Committee, which gives guidance to staff on the teaching programs and latterly have assumed a similar position within the AMC Institute. In this role I convene a committee that reviews new course proposals and significant modifications to existing courses within the AMC. In 2007 I was awarded a Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (this is an Australian government award), which has funded my travel to the US to participate in the Biology Scholars Program. In July 2008, I was awarded a UTas Teaching Fellowship for 40% of my time to guide the development of a new course that we in the NCMCRS are developing for semester 1, 2009. This looks like being a very exciting opportunity to be in at the ground level of a new course, but is likely to be more than a little busy!

My research in science has centred on microbial ecology associated with aquatic environments, mostly sediments. I have used microelectrodes to measure chemical fluxes (e.g. oxygen) across the sediment-water interface in order to describe the microbial metabolic activity of the sediments to assess its impact on nutrient cycling. Doctoral students who I have supervised have worked in this field and also in assessing the value of putative probiotic bacteria in reducing bacterial-induced mortality in larval crustaceans used in aquaculture.

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Re: loss of content - how much does learnng of process count?
Can you track the students in upper level courses to see how they are doing? Anecdotally, i.e., from colleagues, that they are better equiped to do certain things.
Posted 12:06, 18 Jul 2008
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