CL1 - Stories: Building on and Integrating Previous Knowledge



Building on and Integrating Previous Knowledge
- by Ann Burgess

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"Our goal is for students to be able to apply the knowledge that they gained in their previous biology courses to complex current problems. For this to happen, they need more responsibility for their own learning and a bigger role in the class than the traditional lecture format allows."

Biological Interactions is the fourth semester of an introductory biology sequence for science majors; it enrolls approximately 100 students. We focus the course around four areas of current research that draw upon several subdisciplines of biology (for example, one of our topics is breast cancer) and have students work in teams to understand a series of papers from the biological literature. We provide a study guide for each paper but expect students to review relevant background material from previous courses as well as to go over new material that is explained well in their textbooks. We also expect teams to work together outside of class.

Lynn Allen-Hoffmann, Nansi Colley, Jeff Hardin, Amy Moser, and I planned this course together. None of us had taught a course like this before, and we experienced the power of cooperative learning as we worked together and gave each other feedback. An extremely helpful reference is Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., and Smith, K.A., 1998. Active learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom. Interaction Book Company, 7208 Cornelia Drive, Edina MN 55435. Also see the annotated bibliography by J. Cooper and P. Robinson

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