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Moving theory into practice: a reflection on teaching a large, introductory biology course for majors.

Tanner KD - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA. kdtanner@sfsu.edu

ABSTRACT

So, what did I learn in teaching a ∼300-student class for the first time? In general, I learned that many assertions I had previously heard about the values and behaviors of students in a large introductory biology class for majors did not resonate with my own experiences. The same pedagogical approaches may work differently in the hands of different instructors, and sometimes intangibles may be at play, aspects of teaching that are stylistic, affective, and centered on the student–instructor relationship. These “intangibles” should make everyone skeptical of teaching discussions that make claims about “what works” in any general sense. Teaching is a social endeavor about personal relationships. What I learned in teaching the largest class that I had ever attempted was that these personal relationships did not just disappear. They are there if you notice them, cultivate them, and honor them; in fact, they are a major asset in accomplishing our teaching goals. Finally, metacognition is not only important for students learning about biology, but also for instructors’ learning about biology teaching. While it is neither possible nor desirable for every course we teach to become a full-scale research project, we can cultivate a scholarly, scientific, and metacognitive approach to teaching by purposefully reflecting on our experiences and student evidence collected along the way.

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Personal index cards.
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Figure 2: Personal index cards.

Mentions: I referred to this stack of ∼300 index cards regularly while I was teaching, and I still have the cards and refer to them on occasion. It was immensely useful in learning students’ names by associating names with majors and unique characteristics. See Figure 2.


Moving theory into practice: a reflection on teaching a large, introductory biology course for majors.

Tanner KD - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Personal index cards.
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3105914&req=5

Figure 2: Personal index cards.
Mentions: I referred to this stack of ∼300 index cards regularly while I was teaching, and I still have the cards and refer to them on occasion. It was immensely useful in learning students’ names by associating names with majors and unique characteristics. See Figure 2.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA. kdtanner@sfsu.edu

ABSTRACT

So, what did I learn in teaching a ∼300-student class for the first time? In general, I learned that many assertions I had previously heard about the values and behaviors of students in a large introductory biology class for majors did not resonate with my own experiences. The same pedagogical approaches may work differently in the hands of different instructors, and sometimes intangibles may be at play, aspects of teaching that are stylistic, affective, and centered on the student–instructor relationship. These “intangibles” should make everyone skeptical of teaching discussions that make claims about “what works” in any general sense. Teaching is a social endeavor about personal relationships. What I learned in teaching the largest class that I had ever attempted was that these personal relationships did not just disappear. They are there if you notice them, cultivate them, and honor them; in fact, they are a major asset in accomplishing our teaching goals. Finally, metacognition is not only important for students learning about biology, but also for instructors’ learning about biology teaching. While it is neither possible nor desirable for every course we teach to become a full-scale research project, we can cultivate a scholarly, scientific, and metacognitive approach to teaching by purposefully reflecting on our experiences and student evidence collected along the way.

Show MeSH