Comprehensive Assessment Tracking System

Flashcards and Critical Thinking

Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (5 votes)
Monday, August 17, 2015 to Monday, October 10, 2016
Abstract: 

A straight lecture on cell structures is torture for students. To remedy this, I designed a system of flashcards where each organelle is represented by 3 types of cards: a picture card, a structure card, and a characteristic card. Cards have alignment hints for the other two cards. Each group of 4 students is given one set of 36 cards. They work together to align the 3 cards for each organelle.  While groups are engaged in collaborative work to tease out details about each organelle, I can work more closely with each student as they learn to critically evaluate card content. Once all cards are correctly aligned, each student completes a structure/function table. Writing down what is learned kinesthetically promotes transference of learned information from short term to long term memory. In Fall 2015 (prior to card use), 64% of students missed one or more questions on cell biology. In Fall 2016, card use lowered this proportion to 39% on the same or similar exam questions. I have replaced other mundane lectures with this system (e.g., biomes and surveys of Kingdoms) to the relief of my students!

Division/Department: 
Completed Full Cycle: 
Yes
Course Number: 
BIO181
AttachmentSize
File flashcards-example-chloroplast.docx280.1 KB

Comments

REBZS76641's picture
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I absolutely love this idea.  I have utilized this in my differential equations class with direction fields.  This is encouraging me to do this with my other classes.  Thanks for submitting a CATS on this.  

AMY2068401's picture
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Thanks Becky -

I did something like this when I was an undergrad struggling (at first) with trigonometry.  Thanks for reading!

PETAA00009's picture
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What an innovative way to approach what could be a mundane topic! You talked about the benefits of kinesthetic reinforcement moving ideas over into long-term memory, and while I agree with that I submit that another reason for your positive results is that you integrated all learning styles into this new technique. Impressive teaching strategy! Another thing that impressed me is your use of unobtrusive assessment techniques; that is, while students are working in groups you are obviously closely monitoring and intervening with individual students when needed. That is good teaching!
 

AMY2068401's picture
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Thanks Pete - Indeed this strategy touches a lot of learning styles, but it is hard to get all of that in a 1200 character post! :-)   

OLGYZ58951's picture
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HI Amy, I enjoyed reading your CATS. It really shows how creativity can add to our students' learning. Thank you for sharing! Olga

HEA2156907's picture
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Enjoyed the CATS! It is great that you have such comparative data.  

TER2062747's picture
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Amy,  I teach my students the value of knowing their learning style and the fact that most are not auditory learners and thus don't often succeed with a lecture format.  Therefore, I love that you are utilizing so many techniques (learning styles, cooperative learning, other modes of assesment) all within this one activity.  Thank you for sharing and I am excited to see that the data supports this wonderful activity and to come up with similar ways to apply it in my courses.

AMY2068401's picture
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Hi Teri -

After I attended your workshop for the adjunct mentorship program, I started thinking about all of the things I do in my classes and how they align with the brain breaks workshop - so in effect, thanks for triggering this thought so that I could even think to post this CATS!

RACYC00002's picture
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This is a great idea that I am going to try.  I generally dislike flashcards as they tend to discourage critical thinking and simple definitions are rarely helpful for higher level exam questions, but this adds in an extra twist and makes them much more useful 

AMY2068401's picture
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I find that the flashcards students make are concept on one side/picture on the other.  I call these flashcards, but they really aren't.  They are research tools.  Students have to read them, process the information, and align the ideas together correctly.  Not much flash here!  Thanks for reading!

NOR2157229's picture
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I've been encouraging students to construct their own flashcards and have found that those that do tend to do better on class assessments, but nothing that I have formalized for my Psy 230 Intro to Statistics course.  It's usually the stronger students who make up their own flashcards, too.  I'm going to go forward to implement this for my classes.  Thanks for this CATS!

AMY2068401's picture
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HI Norma -

Take a look at my response to Rachel above.  I make these cards with a specific strategy in mind - research!  Thanks for checking out my CATS!