Cal Poly Pomona

Physics Seminar

Friday, March 7, 2008

Using Research to Create a Learner-Centered Science Classroom

Ed Prather

Department of Astronomy and Center for Astronomy Education, University of Arizona

Acknowledging that lecture-based teaching methods are insufficient at promoting significant conceptual gains for students in the introductory college science course is only the first step toward increasing students' understanding. Researchers at the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona have been developing and evaluating the effectiveness of learner-centered instructional materials that put students in an active role in the classroom. With the support from the NSF and NASA, we have designed and field-tested a suite of innovative instructional materials and strategies intended for use with collaborative student learning groups that are designed specifically to be easily integrated into existing conventional lectures-based courses. As such, these instructional materials directly address the needs of heavily loaded teaching faculty in that they offer effective, learner-centered, classroom-ready activities that do not require any outside equipment/staffing or a drastic course revision for implementation. Each activity uses a set of carefully sequence Socratic-dialogue questions or hierarchical tasks that are coupled with graphs, illustrations and data tables to force students to reason critically about conceptually challenging and commonly taught topics in physical science. The materials are based on research into student beliefs and reasoning difficulties and make use of a conceptual change instructional framework that promotes the intellectual engagement of students. Our research into the effectiveness of these instructional materials and learning strategies shows that traditional lectures alone make unsatisfactory gains on student understanding; however, supplementing traditional instruction with the research-based, learner-centered activities helps students make impressive conceptual gains over traditional instruction. A review of research and an overview of instructional strategies will be provided, and modeled during this session. Active audience participation will be required - so come, no really, it will be fun, really!!

Refreshments at 4:00 PM. Seminar begins at 4:10 PM.
Building 8, Room 241
For further information, please call (909) 869-4014

Last modified on January 28, 2008
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