Using Education Theory: Learning From the Past to Shape the Future of Ecology Teaching

Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
Auditorium, Rm 3, Minneapolis Convention Center
Charlene D'Avanzo, Hampshire College
Charlene D'Avanzo, Hampshire College
Ecology faculty have responded to the call for “scientific teaching” by using evidence from their own classroom to inform practice. Examining and responding to data on student learning is clearly important for course improvement. However, if faculty are unfamiliar with the theoretical basis for changes they attempt, their progress may be limited. For example, data on student’s naïve conceptions will likely not help faculty who know little about constructivism. This session will focus on two especially promising theoretical frameworks for ecology and biology teaching transformations: Learning Progressions and Modeling To Learn. Learning Progressions are empirically based hypotheses about how students’ understanding and use of key concepts develop over time. Modeling To Learn focuses on models and modeling which in turn emphasizes science as practice; student thinking about connections, relationships, and complex systems; and authentic assessment. For each topic, a theoretical introduction will be followed by two examples demonstrating how the theory is put into practice in the classroom. For example, speakers will illustrate how they have used Learning Progressions to understand how students develop a more sophisticated understanding of biodiversity and carbon and energy flow and transformations. Other speakers will apply Structure (components, represented as boxes)-Behavior (arrows representing relationships)-Function theory to interactive construction of box and arrow models that help students explicitly link genetics and evolution concepts and mechanisms. The session will end with a panel in which presenters will answer questions and discuss how to promote more widespread application of education and pedagogical theory to ecology teaching reform.
Education Section
8:00 AM
 Applying education theory to ecology teaching: What does that mean?
April Maskiewicz, Point Loma Nazarene University
8:30 AM
 Learning progression theory: Background and application to ecology teaching and learning
Charles W. (Andy) Anderson, Michigan State University; Jenny M. Dauer, Michigan State University; Jennifer H. Doherty, University of Washington
9:00 AM
 Using learning progressions to describe how students develop increasingly sophisticated understandings of biodiversity
Jennifer H. Doherty, University of Washington; Laurel M. Hartley, University of Colorado Denver; Cornelia Harris, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Charles W. (Andy) Anderson, Michigan State University; Alan R. Berkowitz, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; John C. Moore, Colorado State University
9:30 AM
9:40 AM
 Modeling as a way to promote and reveal learning about biological systems
Tammy M. Long, Michigan State University; Joseph Dauer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln; Seth W. Hunt, Michigan State University; Jennifer L. Momsen, North Dakota State University; Elena Bray Speth, Saint Louis University; Sara A. Wyse, Bethel University
10:10 AM
 Student-constructed models reveal biogeochemical understanding
Jennifer L. Momsen, North Dakota State University
10:40 AM
 Long-term knowledge and skill retention in undergraduate biology students
Joseph Dauer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln; Tammy Long, Michigan State University; Kristen M. Kostelnik, Michigan State University; Etiowo Usoro, Michigan State University
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