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February Assignments

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ASMcue abstract draft due February 3, 2010

The ASMcue abstract deadline is fast approaching (finals due February 15th ) and this assignment will help you get started.  We’ll have a conference call to discuss more particulars and answer any of your questions within the next two weeks.  Watch for an email.  In the meantime, please compose a draft of your ASMcue abstracts and share them with your team and facilitator via the wiki (February tab) for review and comment by Wednesday, February 3rd.  


Iglika's abstract

Below is my preliminary abstract. Thanks in advance to those that review it!!!

  • Suggestions on a title are welcome! (Thought should submit it for review even if no title yet).
  • I also have a question: Will it be OK to include the results from my current Spring quarter (which ends at the end of March) for the poster presentation. I will have more solid data and more time for analysis at this point, so I really hope so.

 To improve the understanding of science, a successful group of current approaches involves increased access to authentic science experiences, in the form of labs or analysis of real data. This study reports on a fundamentally different approach that emphasizes explicitly learning principles of good reasoning, in a net cast wider than specific disciplinary examples. Course content is informed by multiple fields, including philosophy of science, probability, and logic. The comparison between evolution and Intelligent Design serves as a springboard for inquiry into issues such as justification, reasoning in the face of uncertainty and the relationships between differing worldviews. The course promotes deep engagement through continuous reflection on one’s thoughts and reasons in the form of short essay responses. These essays, together with the same pre- and post-surveys (with Likert scale responses) given at the start and end of class, are collected as data for the study. The aim is to learn whether as a result of the teaching approach students can 1) identify and explain the features of good explanations and 2) correct common misconceptions about science and justification. Preliminary results show improvement in these areas. At the end of the course all students are able to describe missing components from Intelligent Design explanations and explain why they are important, to identify weak explanations (beyond the course topic) that claim to be scientific and to give well-reasoned responses to such explanations in real life situations. Students can distinguish between possibility and probability, and avoid common confusions of what counts as evidence for each. Students also report higher confidence in science as a way of finding the truth and those that come with the idea that science is “just” a social construct are able to give specific reasons for why such a perspective is skewed. The results provide some evidence that students have a deeper and more complete understanding of science and good reasoning after the course and help to establish this teaching method as a viable alternative in the efforts to improve scientific thinking.


Jim's abstract


Linkages between Metacognition and Cooperative Learning in an Upper Level Biology Course – Baseline Data
J. M. Bader and W. Fox. Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.
This study describes baseline data on the metacognitive status of undergraduate students in an upper level elective biology course (Biol 336 Aquatic Biology). The purpose of this first phase is to collect baseline data to determine if students show gains in metacognitive awareness as part of the normal progression through the course. The course was taught in a manner comparable to previous years with no discussion of metacognition nor any assignments requiring students to reflect on their learning. If our hypothesis is correct and students do not demonstrate increased levels of metacognition, the next time we offer the course, we will use strategies specifically designed to increase student metacognitive levels.
Students completed the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) at the beginning and end of the course. In addition to this self reporting instrument, students ranked how they felt they did on each of three essay questions on each exam during the semester, and those rankings were compared to the grades they earned. Qualitative data were collected periodically during the course as well as a student focus group at the end of the semester.
There is no evidence that student metacognition improved as a result of taking the course. The average pre- and post-MAI scores were not significantly different (p>0.6). There were no significant correlations between MAI scores and final grades (r = .04, p>0.5), grades on any of the four exams (r1 = .03, p>0.5; r2 = -.04, p>0.5; r3 = .08, p>.05; r4 = .03, p>0.5), or total number of college level science courses taken (r = -.12, p>0.5). Analysis of local monitoring accuracy indicates that students were slightly better predictors of their own performance on the final exam (r = .3977) than they were on the first exam (r = .16), but the differences were not significant (p>0.1). Although the focus group was small (n = 4), those that did participate held widely varying views on what helped and what hindered their learning, further evidence that students did not engage in any consistent metacognitive activities.
Comparative data will not be available until the course is taught again in the fall semester, 2010.
Ann's abstract

Does Experiential Learning Impact Students’ Career Awareness, Appreciation of the Microbial World, and Motivation in Microbiology Courses? 

N. Cheeptham* and N. Flood, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, Canada 


We would like to compare the results of short pre- and post-tests taken by students in two microbiology courses to see if their experiences in these courses—most importantly, their experiences in organized field trips--have an impact on their motivation, their understanding of certain aspects of microbiology, and their awareness of possible microbiology-related careers.  The students involved will be taking either BIOL 220 (Introductory Microbiology II) or BIOL 449 (Industrial Microbiology) in the winter semester of 2010 (January to April).  For each field trip, students will complete identical pre- and post-tests, each consisting of 5 questions: three of these remain the same for all trips, while two that are designed specifically to fit topics covered in the different trips.  Comparisons between pre- and post-tests will be done for each trip, within each course separately, and between courses.  We will also ask students for their opinion on the value of field trips in general, in a brief survey at the end of each course.  

This project will help us evaluate the impact of field trips on student learning in lower- and upper-level microbiology courses.  More specifically, it will help us decide whether field trips are a valuable component of each course and if some trips contribute more to the course than others. It will also allow us to determine if this type of experiential learning is more useful than lectures at (i) dispelling some common misconceptions about microbiology (e.g., all microbes are “bad”) and (ii) broadening students’ awareness of career possibilities in microbiology.  Overall, this information will help us design an effective microbiology curriculum, which uses limited resources efficiently.   


 *Corresponding and presenting author 

Naowarat Cheeptham (Ann), Ph.D.
Assistant Professor (2009 ASM/NSF Biology Scholar)
Thompson Rivers University, Box 3010 - 900 McGill Road
Kamloops, BC, Canada
V2C 5N3 

Tel: 250-371-5891
Fax: 250-828-5450

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