An Enhanced Jigsaw approach to teach Cell Parts (BIO181/156)

Submitted by Rachel Smith on

Unit Two of BIO181/BIO156 comprises Protein structure/function, Enzymes, Membranes/Osmosis and basic Cell structure.   I initially taught cell structure in a straight lecture format, but switched to a jigsaw method in 2010, and most recently to an "enhanced" jigsaw method (2012)

Learning was was assessed in a Unit Exam.  One question covered protein structure and one question covered cell structure.  Together, these two multipart questions comprise a quarter of the points on the exam.  Data was collected over several semesters to answer the following questions:

A)    Does success on question 1 (protein) predict success on Question 14 (cells),  

B)    Does spending more time and focus on cell parts cause students to forget or not focus as much on proteins (that is do Question 1 scores decline?),  

C)   Does changing the teaching method of the cell parts improve scores on question 14 (cells)

The answer were  A) YES,  B) NO,  C) NO, not necessarily.

Further details and discussion are included in the attached word document. 

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Average: 4 (2 votes)


Marianne Smith Mon, 11/12/2012 - 11:06am

I'm really curious to see your enhancements to the jigsaw activity, and the resulting data on student performance.  It seems as if your CATS posting was cut off in the middle.

Roselyn Turner Wed, 11/14/2012 - 3:16pm

Rachel, what enhancements did you make?  And, what were the results?  I am really interested!

Rachel Smith Thu, 11/15/2012 - 12:45pm

Hi Pete and Marianne - My first CATS and I didn't realize the 1200 characters was all I got (there is no place later on to enter text, just somewhere to attach a doc, right?) , plus that that was public! I am fixing it now :)

Peter Turner Tue, 11/20/2012 - 9:29am

Hi Rachel -

Good CATS! I especially liked how your first iteration of using the jigsaw method led you to add more student engagement activities to enhance the second jigsaw teaching session. That is truly closing the loop!  Besides student test scores, it would be interesting to see if they enjoyed this teaching method more than tradiitional lecture. And, did you enjoy this more than "talking"?

Rachel Smith Tue, 11/20/2012 - 10:27am

I enjoyed it....  They complained and whined the whole time.    LOL!    My 181 class is very structured, generally. This threw them for a loop.  Those that generally do well with the material and like to hear about it from me HATED it.  They are used to my lectures being good prep for the exam and they were very uncomfortable with not having that resource. 

Erik Huntsinger Tue, 11/20/2012 - 1:34pm

Rachel, there didn't seem to be a big improvement in the students' scores, but I applaud you for attempting something new.  It may take a few semesters to iron out all of the wrinkles, and also to collect more data to see if it goes beyond just random chance.  No doubt that some students prefer to just be "told" what material is going to be on the test, but forcing them to teach the material to each other must mean that they understand it more thoroughly and requires them to develop higher thinking skills.