V01: Instructor’s Tips

INSTRUCTOR’S TIPS and COMMENTS about running classes this way

  1. What convinces you this lab/activity sequence is worthwhile for students?
    • Seeing “light bulb” moments at each stage when students finally “get” a concept.
    • The group work produced during the lab and lecture room follow up activity through discussions with student and listening in on their group conversations.
  2. Once developed, how does running this activity sequence compare to running a similar number of lectures?
    It is a much more active / interactive experience for me and my students. I get to know them better, they get to ask me and the TAs directly, and our time more effectively used because we are helping them directly.
  3. What was the design and development cycle like?
    Took a while to sort out and iron out the kinks after the first run but not too much of a drain on time
  4. Are activities like this universally applicable or is it likely usable only in this course?
    This styles of coupled hands-on and group-based activities could be applied to any course where physical specimens are examined, and results are used to analyze or interpret something based on what is seen.
  5. What are your top tips for teachers new to this particular course?
    • Become familiar with the progression and the approximate timing before you run it.
    • Both the lab and follow-up group activity serve to make student thinking ‘visible’, and this enables effective expert-novice interactions. Therefore circulate, see how students are thinking, and react to their thinking in a “tutorial” manner.
    • Spread your time around as many students as possible. Don’t get stuck with one individual or group.
  6. What tips would you have for teachers interested in developing this kind of exercise?
    • Keep the students active; make the tasks and questions interesting but not frustrating.
    • Make group work habitual in class. One-off or “surprise” activities are rarely appreciated by students, but once they know what to expect, active learning is highly appreciated.

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