pito, on 05 April 2012 - 08:20 AM, said:
Now I found that nice, but on the other hand: if I was a student.. and I had to listen to such songs.. I would feel rather irritated (and it would not stimulate me at all).
It can help some students, but at the same time some students wont like it... I think its important that teachers keep this in mind (for example: do not push students to learn this song if they dont care about it.. everyone has is own style of learning and its important to keep this in mind and not just focus on the weaks for example)
Totally subscribe to that. I would not be a scientist if my biology teacher would have been like that. Actually in highschool I hated biology because of the teacher. I changed my mind in my first year of the university (while I was studying physics) during my first biochemistry and cell biology intro course. And it was not the way of teaching, it was how excited the prof was about what he was teaching. For me everything was gibberish but I was like: this dude is certainly fascinated about this biochemistry stuff, so it must be cool but I cannot see it at the moment because I am too ignorant. And I busted my ass to understand what he was talking about.
My bottom line is that Pito is right: different people learn differently and the question is who do we want to teach? Do we want to lose the attention of the people who would have aced the course while forcing the not-interested ones into the matter? What would be the result? If there are statistically significant numbers about these novel methods, I would adopt them; if these methods only lead to slight increase in the average while decreasing the standard deviation... I would think twice.
Actually, what Pito said about different people having different learning styles: I took a 2-day seminar in teaching to come to this conclusion. Which I see now that it was a loss of time since Pito would have anyhow argued it convincingly for me that this is the case.
On another note: I am totally for this topic: sharing teaching methods. Because I was in this teaching seminar which was not quite focused on scientific stuff. As an example, we were told to take a course that we teach and work on it. I happen to teach a method (short labcourse) course in protein expression and purification. The course starts with 1 hour introduction in the theory behind different types of separation: affinity, gel filtration, ion exchange. The guy who was giving the seminar (with a degree in sociology) told me that this is not good. That I should allow the students to discover themselves the methods and think on their own with guided questions about how they would purify a protein, without knowing anything, based on their life experience. Now.... this might work in sociology when you have questions related to daily life situations. However, in science, you cannot tell a student to reinvent the things that took several years and several researchers working together to invent in the first place. I mean, how would my thing work according to him? I would just give them several purification columns and the Akta system (with a manual) and a cell lysate and say: you have two days to purify the protein from the cell lysate. Anyhow...total fail of this particular course; two days of my life I will never get back.
Coming back to teaching methods. Some of the teaching methods I have observed as functioning at least from my side (me being the learner):
-I had this immunology course in which we were given the book and we were supposed to read on our own each week 1-2 chapters and come to the lecture and discuss the chapter. In the beginning of the class, we would collect questions related to the parts of the chapter we did not understand on a board and the prof (the same for whom I switched from physics to biochemistry
, just a coincidence) would order these questions in the order they were presented in the chapter. He would just moderate the discussion. The answers for the questions would come from others in the class (max 20 people seminar) that happened to understand that particular principle. In the end of the semester you would actually get a grade based on active participation. The prof took care that he involves everybody in the discussion even though they are shy to raise their hand and try to answer one of the questions. I have learned more in that course than in any other course because knowing and understanding as much as possible would be rewarded in good active participation grade.
-when I was doing tutorials for the quantum mechanics course, I observed that the problem of most students is the vocabulary used by profs: too scientific. (the students came to the tutorial for a translation to simple English of their homework task
) Also observed by Trof above: using interjections and being descriptive rather than abstract works the best. Aka use slides whenever possible to illustrate (as well said above by mdfenko) On the other hand, I observed that things based on formulae/mathematical derivations rather than images (biological descriptive facts) are better presented with chalk on the board than on power point slides.
-practical examples always help. solve problems and exercises. show where that knowledge can be used in their daily life from the math formula for the biologist to the scientific fact in smart phones, playstation etc for the highschooler. it works like a reward system: how is your life getting better because you know this?
-debating on topics: make 2 groups that do real debates like the competitive ones about politics and stuff. Like: this house believes in evolution vs the house that believes in creationism. The point in competitive debating is that you are not allowed to choose your own side and you can draw the opposite side, the one you are against. But still you are stuck on the other side and you have to fight to find counter arguments and to convince people of your arguments. As a consequence you become more equilibrated/ open-minded and you start seeing also other point of views keeping in mind their weak parts and your own weak parts. I mean not all debates have to be as controversial as evolution vs creationism. You can pick different point of views to a field. There are several fields with things that are not settled and widely debated. Also, lighter topics could be chosen like: method A is better than method B for assessing this question.
On a last note: Pito mentioned above smth about if you rap 30 min, how much of the lesson is there for the real material? Well, the real question here is: what do we want to teach here? The entire Lehninger/Voet&Voet/Stryer as fast as possible or how to think out of the box? instigate students to look up in the internet, books, library whatever for more info about the stuff that was tangentially touched? you do not need to know everything is taught in schools; knowing how to find certain info and where to look it up is more important than knowing books by heart. I remember my metabolism prof when asked if himself knows all these details he is asking in the exam, without having the slides in front. He told us: well, I do not know, but I have to have a system to differentiate among everybody in the class and rank them somehow because if I would ask only the take home message of the course, what you have to remember in the years to come as researchers, everybody here would get only As and we cannot have that. This is why we will make the exams harder and harder every year to have a Gaussian distribution of the grades. How does this attitude help us in the end? Not at all. In the end, in science, as everywhere else, the best are the ones who know how to raise questions; how to get the info; how to be critical with the info out there: not everything that is published even in science journals is 100% correct; how to come with a plan to get a task done and follow the plan. wholesome understanding of everything and knowing everything is not in there. But this list is only according to me.