Science Education Journal Club

The Faculty of Science's Committee on Teaching and Learning invites you to our Faculty of Science Education Journal Club, which meets on various dates in BC203. Information on upcoming Journal Clubs will be posted here.  All interested in learning more about science education, education, and pedagogical innovations are welcome!  This journal club is an informal one - there are no presentations, but we ask that you read the paper, so that we can have a good discussion!

Want to host a journal club?

Interested in hosting a journal club? Hosting doesn't require a lot of work. The host picks out the paper we'll discuss, the time/day that we meet during the third week of the month (typically Mon-Wed), can provide a few guiding discussion questions for participants, and facilitates that day's discussion.

FW 2015/16

Tuesday Mar 29, 11:45-12:45 pm, Lumbers 344

Many instructors point to critical thinking as an important skill that students should develop over the course of their university career, but how do we help students develop this skill? Tamara Kelly is hosting the Natasha Homes et al paper on Critical Thinking.

Wednesday Oct 28, 1-2 pm, BC203

This month Kyle Belozerov (Research Associate, Sessional Lecturer, Dept. of Biology) is hosting .

The paper... Interested in inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning? We’ll be discussing Makarevitch et al. (2015), which discusses students analyzing big data sets.

FW 2014/15

February 23, 1:30-3:30pm, BC203

This month, Dr. Carol Bucking is hosting. All interested in learning more about science education, evidence-based teaching, and pedagogical innovations are welcome (please pass along this information to anyone you think might be interested)! Light snacks and beverages are provided courtesy of FSc and Bethune College.

The paper…Do your students have difficulty reading and analyzing primary literature. Is there a way to build this skill in our undergraduates?   2014. Sato et al. Practice Makes Pretty Good: Assessment of Primary Literature Reading Abilities across Multiple Large-Enrollment Biology Laboratory Courses assesses student learning gains after introducing a primary literature module into upper-division laboratory courses. ... Want to know more? Please join us for a brief discussion on Feb. 23rd in BC203! See you there!

JANUARY 20, 2:30-3:30pm, BC203

This month, Dennis Kolosov (PhD Candidate, Biology) is hosting.

The paper…Have you always suspected there is a difference between what students think they know and what they actually know? Ziegler & Montplaisir 2014 Perceived and Determined Knowledge examines the difference between students' perception of their knowledge and their determined knowledge at the beginning and at the end of an upper-year biology course. To no surprise, students who do better have higher metacognitive skills and demonstrate better alignment between their perceived and determined knowledge, i.e. students who do well know that they know and know that they don't know... Want to know more? Please join us for a brief discussion on Jan. 20th in BC203! See you there!

NOVEMBER 20, 12-1pm, BC203

This month, Dr. Nicole Nivillac is hosting.

The paper…Are you concerned with the amount of content coverage in your courses? Can our students learn more when we teach less? The paper we will be discussing is the 2012 Luckie et. al. Less teaching, more learning: 10-yr study supports increasing student learning through less coverage and more inquiry.

OCTOBER 20, 3:00PM, BC203

This month, Dr. Kyle Belozerov is hosting. 

The paper…Are you interested in active learning? This month learn about the outcomes of implementing active learning. Clickers even make an appearance! The paper we will be discussing is the 2014 Linton et. al.  Identifying Key Features of Effective Active Learning: The Effects of Writing and Peer Discussion.

SEPTEMBER 16, 3:00 pm, BC 203

This month, Dr. Tamara Kelly is hosting.
The paper...
This month, learn about some ways to get your students working in class, but without adding a ton of grading on your part (as well, I'm sure the conversation will diverge to 'Is grading a reliable measure of student learning')! The paper we'll be discussing is 2014 Schinske Tanner Teaching more by grading less (or differently). While this paper is based on work from the biology classroom, its take home message can be applied to any of the sciences.

Previous Academic Years 

MARCH 27, 12:00 pm, BC 203

Dr. Xin Gao will be hosting. Here are the two papers that will be under discussion. 2014_Castaño-Muñoz et al
2014 Castillo-Merino & Serradell-Lopez]

Title: The Internet in face-to-face higher education: Can interactive learning improve academic achievement?

by Jonatan Castano-Munoz, Josep M. Duart and Teresa Sancho-Vinuesa

Summary of the paper: This paper examines the survey data collected from 9044 university students regarding their Internet use and their academic performance. The researchers compared students and noted that for students with more Internet interactive learning, the academic performance is enhanced significantly. On the other hand, for students with more Internet individual learning, such enhancement is not significant. The paper tries to link the causal mechanism of the improvement to interactive learning process.

Discussion Questions:

1)   What is the benefit of Internet individual learning?

2)   What is the benefit of Internet interactive learning?

3)   Why peer-lecturer and peer-peer interaction can help improve the learning outcome?

4)   How can we incorporate more Internet individual and interactive learning into our course design?

5)   What are the software/platform available to help increase the interactive learning?

JANUARY 22, 10:30 am, BC 203

 Dr. Mark Vicari will be hosting. Here’s the papers (Abraham 12 lesson to increase acceptance of evolutionLiu 12 science denialism) and discussion questions/directions that Dr. Vicari provided for us:

Liu (2012) defines denialism as “the systematic rejection of evidence to avoid undesirable facts or conclusions”.  While denial of evolution may be the most familiar example, science educators are likely to encounter other denialist viewpoints that are widespread in society today, including denial of man-made climate change, of HIV as the cause of AIDS, and the belief that vaccines do more harm than good.  Liu discusses teaching approaches and lists available resources to help educators handle denialism.  Abraham et al. (2012) describe a lesson plan on evolution designed to address misconceptions revealed in student interviews. The lesson was not entirely successful at dispelling those misconceptions, but it did increase student acceptance of evolution – lack of which is a barrier to understanding in itself.

A few questions for thought:
1) How to distinguish between healthy scientific skepticism and denialism in the classroom?
2) How do you approach denialism when you encounter it? (Should it always be approached?)
3) How might the lesson plan of Abraham et al be improved?

DECEMBER (Dec. 4, 11:30 am-12:30 pm)

Derek Jackson will host.

This paper by Kimberly Tanner outlines 21 strategies for promoting student engagement and cultivating classroom equity. The goal of the author is to present ideas on how to get the whole class involved so everyone has the opportunity (and the means) to contribute to actively participate in class. As a new lecturer just starting my career I found the paper very helpful in helping me reflect on my current teaching practices and think about what improvements I can make to my new classes next semester. I am very interested in what the other members of the journal club (both experienced and not-as-experienced teachers) think about the strategies in this paper, which ones they have tried in their own courses and which ideas (if any) they are skeptical about or have not worked well for them in practice. The paper is also different from the previous two we presented at journal club in that it does not include a specific experimental study with quantitative results; however in most sections Tanner provides many references to peer-reviewed literature to support her viewpoints rather than just relying on anecdotal evidence.

The paper is divided into five major sections, each containing a few strategies. For example, some of these sections deal with encouraging the participation of all students in the class, and others deal with giving students the opportunity to think and discuss the material. The paper also includes a self-assessment of equitable teaching strategies (Table 1) that can be filled in by the reader. Prior to our journal club meeting here are some ideas we can try to facilitate an equitable discussion on the paper (pun intended?)

- It would be a good idea for participants to fill out the questionnaire (Table 1) prior to the club meeting. We can then get a sense of what people have tried (and know work) and what very few people have tried
- Since there are 21 strategies (with commonalities in several of them), it might be helpful for each section of the paper (five in total) to pick out a) the strategy that you agree with the most (or works best for you) and b) the strategy you are the most skeptical about (or you found didn't work well for you as an instructor).
- What strategies do you think work best for large introductory level classes?

We can then discuss how these ideas can be expanded on or altered to better suit the courses we teach in general.

NOVEMBER (Nov. 1, 12-1 pm)

Light lunch & refreshments provided! Dennis Kolosov will host and we'll be looking at the paper:

Freeman S, Haak D, Wenderoth MP. 2011. Increased course structure improves performance in introductory biology. CBE Life Sci Educ. 10(2): 175-186.

SEPTEMBER (Sept. 18, 11 am-12:30 pm)

Nicole Nivillac and Tamara Kelly will be hosting and we'll be looking at the paper:

Sana F, Weston T, Cepeda NJ. 2013. Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers & Education. 62: 24-31.

This paper comes out of York and has received widespread media attention: