Developing Active Learning Materials and Methods for Teaching Ecology

Tony Joern

Description:Research indicates that active learning increases student performance in undergraduate STEM courses, and many options exist to achieve these goals. In this practicum, my goal is to focus on case studies that will be designed by graduate students on topics of interest to them that would be appropriate for university-level ecology courses. While case studies can be used effectively in many ways, I want graduate students in this class to develop case studies that require more than just class discussion of a narrative that is read before coming to class. By guiding undergraduate students through critical thinking processes, the case studies developed in this course will be aimed at upper division ecology courses, and �¢?�¦ �¢?�¢ Require the undergraduate students to understand an initial narrative outlining the problem, including relevant natural history and background of ecological principles �¢?�¢ Provide evidence that they understand the main overarching questions associated with the case study problem �¢?�¢ Develop critical hypotheses that allow them to answer the questions posed in the case study �¢?�¢ Show the ability to work with and draw conclusions from data presented as part of the case study, including graphing data and interpreting results to test hypotheses �¢?�¢ Synthesize the results of the multiple steps in the case study to understand the problem in a short written narrative guided by questions provided in the case study. In developing these case studies, we will also explicitly include the teaching goals that we want to achieve as a group for each module. I will provide three case studies to get the ball rolling, two that I have been developing for my upper division Fundamentals of Ecology course at Kansas State University, and a third that comes from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. Each has strengths and weaknesses, and this introduction will provide a stepping point for developing new case studies by students in the class. In addition to developing new case study modules, students in the class will also "test-drive" and discuss ways to improve each of the case studies developed by others. Ultimately, it may be possible to develop quality case studies that can be submitted to the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University of Buffalo. In addition, all students will have copies of all of the case studies that we develop for use in their own teaching now or in the future. More information on National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University of Buffalo: To generally explore the case collection, find the latest cases, and perform keyword searches, begin at: Anthony Joern University Distinguished Professor of Biology [The instructor will grade the case studies developed by the students and their participation in discussions. The course grade (pass/fail) will be based on the case study grade (70%) and contributions to discussion (30%).]

Section: 6
Credits: 1
First Meeting: 9/5/2014
Meeting Times: 11 am
Classroom: C021 Plant Sciences Building
CRN: 65730
Cross Listed:
Enrollment Limit: 10
Course Text:
Instructor Contact Info:
      Tony Joern 1-5261