Well That Didn't Work

Submitted by Bronwen Steele on

Students in microbiology struggle with osmosis - the movement of water in and out of cells according to solute content of the environment. This is covered in the pre-req course (BIO 156 or 181). Bio fac have articulated these concepts across the courses. Unfortunately for the last couple of years students were directed to skip the pre-req since HS bio counts. Usually osmosis is taught by introducing terms first then numbers (the conceptual piece) to describe the relative differences in solute concentrations  internal and external to cells. After seeing results for a take home 'exam' (homework) and a proctored in class exam for Fall 17 I decided to reverse the instruction for Spring 18. Provide the numbers first, then the terms. Practice problems were done in lecture. Students worked with a partner and had to come to the board to write in answers. They also had questions on lab homework and were provided feedback. For both the take home and proctored exam they had to answer 1 objective question (1pt) and provide an explanation (2pts). They did worse. I have not given up but will reach out to faculty versed in modeling, which empasizes conceptual learning.

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Average: 5 (1 vote)


Becky Baranowski Mon, 04/16/2018 - 2:14pm

1st off - thank you for taking time to submit a CATS.  2nd - I had the same problem when I started incorporating modeling in the classroom.  Learning how to work with the groups, get them to think, and knowing what questions to ask them is difficult.  I still don't have it down, especially in calculus II.  I hope you continue to try new things and brainstorm with others.  

Catherine Cochran Mon, 04/16/2018 - 3:11pm

Thank you for sharing your research, and working on improving students' learning.  I am curious to hear your end results.

Rene Willekens Tue, 04/17/2018 - 2:11pm

We need more CATS like this. First, you are mentioning specific learning outcomes and not just test scores. This is important because HLC reviewers noted we mentioned test scores but not the learning we were trying to improve.   I think it is also important to post things that don't work.  In a way journals can be a form of skewed science because studies with signficant findings  get published, and the boring "no statistical difference" students are rararly published or read.