ABT article

John Hoddinott john.hoddinott at ualberta.ca
Fri Feb 16 10:52:15 EST 2001

I have been lurking on this tread and I am having some difficulty getting
behind the pedagogy of what is being discussed.

What are the learning outcomes being achieved?

Do we want students to develop skills of recording observations through
microscopes? If that is the case we would assess their mastery of the skills
by providing feedback on their recordings and labellings. This being a
digital age it is more relevant that their recording would be by a digital
camera rather than by a line drawing, with or without a camera lucida.

The outcome could be more cognitively based, e.g. using a microscope and
prepared slides, students will be able to differentiate between different
tissue and cell types. In that case what is assessed? A drawing with correct
labelling could provide evidence that the objective has been achieved. If
there is no desire to develop the skill of drawing, a correctly labelled
digital image could be the evidence. The additional skill developed in the
latter case might be the use of an appropriate 'mind-tool' like PowerPoint.

On a different tangent, we often read of accommodating different student
learning styles into our teaching repertoire. The act of drawing, or even
colouring in one of the published compendia of line drawings, might be a
good way to assist students who have a kinaesthetic learning style to
achieve the learning outcomes.

Then we have the issues of examinations. For those of us who have taken
and/or given those multi-station, "move to the next station when the bell
rings," lab exams, the idea of simply changing the projected image in an
exam room might be appealing. (Who gets to choose the depth of focus?) Just
what is the outcome being achieved in being able to identify and comment on
a projected, or directly observed, image in 30 seconds or one minute? Does
any professional biologist work under such conditions? Is this form of
assessment authentic on any objective scale?

The technology does offer some interesting possibilities for students to
demonstrate the achieving of learning outcomes through problem based
learning or portfolio assessment, but that would be for another thread.

John Hoddinott PhD,
Associate Director,
Academic Technologies for Learning,
Faculty of Extension,
& Professor, Biological Sciences,
University of Alberta,
Edmonton, AB, T6G 2T4, Canada.
Tel: (780) 492-1183, Home: (780) 988-2809
Fax: (780) 492-1857
E-mail: john.hoddinott at ualberta.ca
"Colleges and universities need no longer
function solely as a culture's hard disk,
producing students who then, like floppies,
carry information to other non-academic
Paul Michael Privateer, 1999.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-plant-ed at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
[mailto:owner-plant-ed at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk]On Behalf Of "Nancy Kirkpatrick"
Sent: February 16, 2001 8:00 AM
To: plant-ed at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
Subject: Re: ABT article

A colleague of mine, who teaches embryology, is trying a new approach this
year. He used to have his students draw all of the slides needed for his
course.  But the quality was low and he wasnt sure they were learning from
them.  This year he has attached a digital camera to a microscope which is
then attached to a computer.  Each student must take a digital image of each
slide, then transfer the file to PowerPoint and label each slide.  It's a
very small (six) class - I don't know if this would be feasible in a large
class unless you are lucky enough to have multiple digital cameras.


Nancy S. Kirkpatrick, PhD.
Assistant Professor
Biology Department
Lake Superior State University
Sault Ste. Marie, Mi  49783
(906) 635-2894 FAX: (906) 635-2266
nkirkpatrick at gw.lssu.edu

>>> "Perry, Jim" <jperry at uwc.edu> 02/15 5:59 PM >>>
Sandra, et al., the ABT issue to which I referred came to my home within the
last week, so I would guess it's the most recent issue, either Feb. or
March, 2001. It was an issue very heavy into technology.

I gave it -- the idea that a professor might want to "stop the students from
drawing -- some thought after reading the article. (And actually the article
really was about storing images that they otherwise do not have access to.)
I am as guilty as heck of "giving" my students images to assist them in
their study. In fact, I'm co-author on three photo atlases and a lab manual
filled with pretty pictures, so I feel in some respects I have contributed
to the problem. And text books are now loaded with absolutely stunning
illustrations, both photographic and artist-rendered.

When I took my intro biology courses (1966, so figure it out you young
folks), we did a lot of drawing, and their were very few aids, such as photo
atlases. I still have my Wilson and Loomis botany book, and it's almost
exclusively line drawings.

So I started asking myself how some of the modern technology could be linked
with a means to really increase learning. My thought, articulated with my
team-teaching spouse, was that no matter how pretty my and other pictures
are, they are not the same as what students are seeing. I selected the best
specimens to photograph, and I really know how to set up a light microscope
to give the best images.

We've asked students to do their own drawings, but of course, they pretty
much copy what they seen in their books.

So my thoughts are, what about if they were able to take a digital picture
of THEIR slide or specimen, print it (color = $) and then label it, and
describe in writing what the differences are between what they have seen and
what's in their book?

Do you think this would cause them to look more closely at their own
specimens and would it increase the learning experience? They like
technology, so would this play into our hands without them realizing it?


-----Original Message-----
From: sjohnson at mtsu.edu [mailto:sjohnson at mtsu.edu]
Sent: Thursday, February 15, 2001 8:09 AM
To: jperry at uwc.edu
Cc: plant-ed at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Web-based examinations


do you remember in which issue of ABT the "no draw" article
appeared? i'm interested to read it to understand why they think
that not drawing would benefit students. i've been teaching for < 3
yrs now & am increasingly having my students draw. i find that the
pretty transparencies don't help them get a "feel" for the organism
of structure. now mostly we draw (me too!) and then i show the
pretty color transp to compare our work against a more
professional rendition. some of my students don't bother to draw
their own - but then there are those who don't take notes either. i
don't have any hard evidence, but i agree with you that putting
pencil to paper helps.


> A recent article in American Biology Teacher prompts me to post this
> message. The article is about "stopping your students from making drawings
> in class by using a digital camera attached to a microscope." My first
> reaction was to fire off a nasty letter about the authors not realizing
> value of putting a pencil to paper. But I digress and show my prejudice.
> I'm wondering if there is a piece of software that would allow a prof to
> place images on a web site, and have students take exams (lab practicals?)
> sitting at a computer. I use Blackboard to a limited extent, but I don't
> think it will do what I want. Ideally, the prof would not need be a
> programmer or spend as much time figuring out how to do this as s/he did
> doing a graduate degree. It seems to me that this might be a means to give
> some exams without the problem of setting up a room full of apparatus and
> microscopes.
> Does any of the incredible expertise out there have any suggestions>
> jim
> James W. Perry, Ph.D.
> CEO/Campus Dean
> Professor of Biological Sciences
> University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley
> 1478 Midway Road
> Menasha, WI 54852-1297
> 920.832.2610 (voice)
> 920.832.2674 (FAX)
> www.uwfox.uwc.edu

Sandra L. Johnson, Ph.D.
Plant Physiological Ecologist
Middle Tennessee State University
Biology Department     PO Box 60
Murfreesboro, TN  31732

Phone: (615) 898-2021
FAX: (615) 898-5093



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