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Context & Problem

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Courses (Cellular Molecular and Microbial Biology; CMMB major)
     Senior: BIOL449 Industrial Microbiology (12-24 major students, no lab, lecture 3 hrs a week, 13 weeks, offered in the winter semester from Jan to Apr), Beer brewery, Winery, and Cheese factory field trips.
     Sophomore: BIOL 220 Introductory Microbiology (64-80 major students, 2 hrs lab a week, lecture 3 hrs a week, 13 weeks in the winter semester from Jan to Apr), Sewage treatment plant, drinking water treatment facility, and Royal Inland Hospital pathology laboratory.
Learning objectives
     Recognize the role of microorganisms in our life on a daily basis and in local community.
     Understand some microbiological concepts.
     Develop an awareness of possible careers in the field.
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Remember the alternative keywords... experiential learning, informal learning, and what were the others?
Posted 14:21, 17 Jul 2009
In your learning objectives, you may want to clearly state what microbiological concepts that you want the students to learn. It is hard to measure a student "understanding" a concept. Use Bloom's taxonomy.

Can you get the places you are visiting or other companies to sponsor (i.e. pay for) your fieldtrips?
Posted 14:22, 17 Jul 2009
Solid experimental design. I'm looking forward to hearing about your results, especially because I also use field trips in some of my courses.
Posted 14:23, 17 Jul 2009
How do educational field trips impact students? How do you define impact? On their learning? a specific aspect of their learning? on their motivation to learn? their learning gains? career goals? etc.
Still a very broad question and difficult to measure. You should narrow it down to a specific trait that you would like to see impacted.
Posted 14:24, 17 Jul 2009
How do field trips affect student learning?

Potential research question: Does the location of the field trip engage students (i.e., do students like going to brewery, since they like beer?)? I think it would be OK to engage students through the topic as long as the critical reflection on the topic reinforces the science concepts. If location of field trip matters, do students learn more if they go somewhere they enjoy (i.e. brewery) vs somewhere they may not like as much (i.e., sewage facility).

You could compare the learning gains for one field trip vs another field trip. The hypothesis could be that students may learn more if they are more engaged in the topic (i.e., beer vs sewage). edited 14:28, 17 Jul 2009
Posted 14:24, 17 Jul 2009
1) Analyze test questions that specifically test concepts present in lecture and on field trips (learning gain)

2) Write reflection pieces on:
a) What did the students capture from the presenter? (based on what you asked the presenter to emphasize)
b) Would the student like to work there? Why or why not?
Posted 14:24, 17 Jul 2009
Will the upper level students have participated in field trips in previous years? If so, do you think this will impact your results? The upper division students will have had a double dose of the "field trip" treatment.

You might want to ask them to address specific questions in their reflection paper, so that you get the kind of data that you need.

I think you can easily rewrite your research question so that it includes the specific impacts you're looking at: appreciation of microbial activities and products, career awareness, and motivation.
Posted 14:27, 17 Jul 2009
How can you measure "appreciation of microbial activities"?
Or maybe you anticipate qualitative results - I'm still thinking quantitatively.
Posted 14:27, 17 Jul 2009
What will you ask them in the reflective paper?
Posted 14:27, 17 Jul 2009
value of field trips (experiential learning): students write report of field trip; pre-post concept tests
time on task problem? You'll need to give additional assignment on topics where there is no field trip (lab is fine). As discussed, this may get complicated, so you could just do the pre-post to see how the field trip enhances their understanding. In that case you'll need to make sure your pre-post is truly isomorphic and matched in difficulty.
Posted 14:29, 17 Jul 2009
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