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Context and Problem

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I teach an introductory ecology course to approximately 50 students at a small liberal arts college.  The course is the third course in a 4-course progression for biology majors.  Most of the students are sophomores and many students equate learning science with memorization.  One of my goals for the course is to teach students how to do science while at the same time emphasizing the core ecological concepts.  I have designed a type of assignment in which students are asked to interpret ecological data (typically in graph or table form), describe the data, formulate a hypothesis to explain the data, and then design an experiment to test their hypothesis.  Although I think the assignment is fairly good at providing opportunities for students to practice specific skills (graph interpretation, hypothesis generation, and experimental design), I am not so certain that these critical-thinking assignments help the students to understand the ecological concepts presented.  My research question is: Do these assignments help students understand (and retain) core ecological concepts? 

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Nice project, great alignment, well stated. Great foundation for moving forward.
Posted 13:10, 15 Jul 2011
Might be nice to see their reflections on their learning of concepts.
Posted 13:18, 15 Jul 2011
Good explanation of problem and alignment. How do you think you would choose the concepts you would match; are there characteristics of each that you would want to consider? Will you do any survey of stdt perception ?
Posted 13:25, 15 Jul 2011
I may have missed this, but are you going to focus on one or two concepts or re-structure the entire the course?
Posted 13:27, 15 Jul 2011
Your description of the course/curriculum suggests that the core concepts ARE critical thinking skills, so I'm having a hard time separating them.
Posted 13:32, 15 Jul 2011
Hi - I tried to capture what you said and the questions asked! Show them science is not memorization of stuff…how to do science…skills in each course – data interpretation, hypothesis development, experimental design; do critical-thinking assignments help students learn core content in ecology??? What will your measurements do? Comprehensive final? Way to get time on task for concepts not covered by critical thinking assignment?
Posted 14:23, 15 Jul 2011
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