Another name

Robert C. Hodson hodson at COPLAND.UDEL.EDU
Wed Jan 29 13:27:39 EST 1997

The ideas about teaching biology recently expressed in this newsgroup by
Bill Purves and others (keep up the good work!) are recognized by a
colleague of mine, who is in the forefront of developing PBL
(problem-based learning) in biology, as a form of PBL (or active learning,
group learning, or similar moniker). This colleague and others are being
successful in obtaining funding from NSF and FIPSE for development in
these areas, and thus it has federal support.  The relative portions of
PBL and traditional lecture-based teaching in a course will necessarily
vary (e.g. instructor preference, course level, class size), but my
unscientific survey of students in first-year introductory biology here
(University of Delaware) finds that they prefer AT LEAST SOME student
initiated and directed group work mixed in with structured lecture (and
also in lab setting). It is interesting that this group work does not need
to be specifically scored to be perceived as beneficial --- students seem
satisfied when it helps in some future endeavor such as writing an
individual lab report or taking a final examination (but still something
graded).  Only later will they (hopefully) realize that the PBL component
may have been the more important one in catalyzing independent inquiry of
their surroundings rather than dependence on authority, and providing
methods for doing this.


Robert C. Hodson
Department of Biology
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716

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