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Reading Reflections

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               I read the 3 articles and was really pleased to be in such good company. I have these same questions about the scholarship of teaching. How can I do research on what my students are learning? How can I tell if they are learning from me?  What are the most effective assignments and teaching techniques that I can use in my class?  And, when I collect data, how do I make sure the research is high quality and something that others would want to read? I have many research questions about teaching and  learning, but one of them is this:  Does excessive use of biology or science jargon interfere with student learning?  I am also interested in teaching evolution / natural selection more effectively. How can I teach evolution so that I  reduce the number of misconceptions about evolution?  I believe that these questions would fall under the taxonomy of “what works,” according to Hutchings article.

               From the first article by Bass (1999) I was interested in many of the same questions. I do always wonder if the “better” students are learning from me or do they just have a more thorough background. And, I also have thought about the question about choosing one learning outcome goal and making sure you are spending a lot of time focused on attaining that goal. I have spent countless hours in pedagogy workshops and I do remember one particular workshop where we were asked to write down the one thing that we wanted students to get out of our class.  I was surprised at the time that someone would ask me that.  I decided that learning about the scientific process of discovery was the most important learning outcome for one of my classes.  And then I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t spending nearly enough time on that outcome. So I adjusted the course assignments and labs to spend considerably more time on this outcome.  Obviously these questions about teaching and learning can be very important for teachers. I know I have changed my classes many times based on this kind of contemplation.  I also think that many teachers don’t reflect on this process. I really liked this quote from Bass’s (1999) article, “It takes a deliberate act to look at teaching from the perspective of learning.” And, well….. I think this is why I am in the Biology Scholars program!

               I also really enjoyed the article by Mettetal (2001) and her discussion of Classroom Action Research. I have done some mini –projects where I collected data on my students and I would most certainly like to move to the next level to make sure I am asking good questions, collecting good data, and doing an appropriate analysis of the data. I have had students rank the effectiveness of different teaching techniques, I have done pre- and post- assessments to see how their knowledge has changed, and I have collected data on other things like participation and student perceptions and attitudes. I know I still have a lot to learn and look forward to this process. I will continue to ask questions and collect data about student learning. I am hoping to become better at it.  And, I am quite excited to share and brainstorm about teaching and learning with my new colleagues in the Program.

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