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Biological Sciences Seminar: Improving student learning through understanding reasoning and problem-solving practices

Posted by on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 in Events, News.

Join the Biological Sciences Department on Monday, December 2, 3:30-5:15, to consider different teaching practices as part of their ongoing seminar series. Undergraduate Learning Assistants will present posters on questions such as, “Which clicker questions promote the most discussion?” during tea time from 3:30-4:10, followed by Professor Jenny Knight’s seminar.

Professor Knight writes, “Classroom practices affect student behavior, and by extension, their learning.  Through studying how students discuss clicker questions in active learning classrooms, we have found that students rarely use reasoning when answering in-class questions. However, their use of reasoning increases when they are cued to use reasoning by their instructors, by peer Learning Assistants, or when under pressure of accountability. Can students transfer in-class group practices to individual assessment opportunities that require reasoning and logic?

To answer this, we are studying how students independently solve complex genetics problems through written documentation of their problem-solving processes. We analyze their answers for correctness, use of reasoning, and other cognitive and metacognitive processes.

We have also collected data on whether giving students content “hints” or modeling of problem-solving processes improves their ability to solve similar problems, or changes their problem-solving.  Ideally, this work will lead to an understanding of how to better help students become life-long problem-solvers.”


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