Monday, August 2, 2010

PS 3-19: Faculty use of  Diagnostic Question Clusters (DQCs) and active teaching in ecology and biology courses

Charlene D'Avanzo, Hampshire College, Charles W. Anderson, Michigan State University, Brook Wilke, Michigan State University, Kathy S. Williams, San Diego State University, Nancy Stamp, Binghamton University - SUNY, John Merrill, Michigan State University, Alan B. Griffith, University of Mary Washington, Laurel M. Hartley, University of Colorado Denver, and Nancy J. Pelaez, Purdue University.


The Diagnostic Question Cluster (DQC) project integrates education research with faculty development. The DQCs are research-based sets of questions designed to: 1) help faculty identify students’ poor reasoning about C-transforming processes, 2) focus on especially problematic/key processes and thinking, and 3) gauge students’ progress with this reasoning and understanding. Each cluster of questions, which can be completed in 10-15 minutes, is intended to be used as pre/post tests. The questions are based on a conceptual Framework concerning energy and matter (e.g. carbon) across subcelluar /cellular, organismal and ecosystem scales. Faculty experienced in active teaching from a wide range of institutions attended workshops and worked in teams to learn now to effectively use these tools and pedagogy in their introductory biology and ecology courses.

Evaluation findings from interviews and course materials show that faculty require at least several years to begin to integrate the DQCs, associated active teaching strategies, and overall pedagogy into their teaching. In addition, emphasis on the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) may be a critical motivator of fundamental change in biology faculty’s thinking about teaching and learning.