Richard Pérez-Peña at the New York Times recently described a new—and yet, in some ways, traditional—way of teaching science. In short, it involves ditching lecture for in-class activities and problem-solving, a move toward the project-based learning frequently championed by today's education theorists.
Pérez-Peña chronicled science classes at University of California, Davis and the work of Professor Catherine Uvarov:
Before each biology discussion session, students are supposed to go online to do some reading and answer questions. The teaching assistants then know who has done the reading, who has understood it and whether the group is weak in some spots, so they can tailor lessons accordingly. Students complain about being unable to escape scrutiny, but they acknowledge that they learn more. “I don’t like getting called on like that,” said Jasmine Do, a first-year student who was one of those singled out by Dr. Uvarov. “But it makes you participate and pay attention because there’s always something new going on, and it makes the time go by really fast.”
Faculty members have smartphone apps that let them call on students at random, rather than just on those who volunteer. When the instructors post multiple-choice questions on big screens, students answer with remote controls, providing instant feedback on how much information is sinking in and allowing faculty members to track each student’s attendance and participation, even in a class of 500.
See full article here.