Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop

1. Strategy: Responsibility Model & Wise Choice Process

Application: Microbiology

Educator: Karen Anderson, Faculty, Science, Madison Area Technical College, WI

Implementation: After returning the first quiz or test, I ask students if they are on course to success in the course. Typically in Microbiology, I find that many will not be. I introduce students to the Responsibility Model and elicit how they think a Victim and a Creator would respond to a poor quiz or test grade. Next I introduce students to the Wise Choice Process. When they understand the process, I ask them to pair up and go through the Wise Choice Process, using their quiz or test result as the “Situation” (Step 1) that they explore. Afterwards, I ask volunteers to share their experience of the WCP and any commitments they have made. I end by asking students to write a paragraph assessing the value of this activity. In a recent class, 28 of 31 thought the activity was worthwhile. One student wrote, “It allowed time to talk about and think through what I need to do to become a better student! My partner and I also exchanged ideas on study techniques and stress-reduction techniques to make school and life a little easier. I am glad we did this and I actually became a lot more motivated by some of the things that were said in class. Thank you!” This activity motivated many students with low confidence and also allowed students to connect with one another. I plan to use this process again in microbiology and begin using it in my chemistry course.

2. Strategy: Class Contract and 32-Day Commitment

Application: Biology

Educator: Diana Willeman, Faculty, Science, Jefferson College of Health Science, VA

Implementation: I had my BIO 102 course (5 week course that meets M-F) do both a class contract and also a 32-Day Commitment to study biology every day anywhere between 5-30 minutes (their choice). On my first exam, no one scored less than a “B” and the class average was 98. WOW!!! This has never happened in the 12+ years that I have taught this course and I do NOT give easy exams. When I commented on the exceptional grades for this exam, I asked the students what their “secret of success” was. They responded by saying that they felt committed to study biology every day. I was a believer before, but now I REALLY believe in the power of using On Course concepts in the classroom. (You know scientists….we have to see the facts to back up things!)

3. Strategy: Jigsaw

Application: Anatomy and Physiology

Educator: No name given

Implementation: Have students get into groups of four. Each student chooses to become the group’s expert in one of four parts of the urinary system: 1) Urethra, 2) Kidney, 3) Ureter or 4) Urinary bladder. To complete Step A of the Jigsaw, tell students about the resources and time they have available to become their group’s expert. For example, available resources could be readings in their course text plus assigned sources on the Internet; available time could be one week. In Step B of the Jigsaw, have the four expert groups meet to plan how to teach their method to their home group members. Additionally, each expert group creates a practice test to evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching. The instructor previews these practice tests for appropriateness (revising where necessary). In Step C, experts return to their home groups, teach their method, then administer and review the practice tests. The instructor answers questions about the four practice tests and later gives an instructor-created test that counts toward the students’ grades.

4. Strategy: Graduation Game (Ring Toss), Monthly Calendar, & Next Action List

Application: Chemistry

Educator: Gladys Aviles, Faculty, Natural Science and First Year Programs Coordinator, Lawrence Technical University, MI

Implementation: I do the Graduation Game on the first day of class. In a follow-up discussion, I guide students to connect their experience in the game with the importance of taking 3-foot tosses in the course: keeping up with reading assignments, attending class regularly, completing all lab work, etc. Then I introduce the monthly calendar and encourage them to write what is due that month and keep it in a visible place. Additionally, I encourage them to combine their use of a calendar with a Next Actions List.

5. Strategy: Jigsaw

Application: Introduction to Astronomy

Educator: George Kraus, Faculty, Science, College of Southern Maryland, MD

Implementation: I place students in home groups of four and ask them to become the group’s expert in one of the four categories of questions in the Study Guide that I provide them for the next exam. In Step A, I give them one week to become the group’s expert on the category of questions they choose. In Step B, the expert groups meet in class to begin writing answers to the questions on the study guide. They need not complete the task in the first meeting, but they must be finished by the day of the in-class review session. I give the expert groups about 10 minutes on review day to meet and compare their answers. In Step C, experts return to their home groups, explain how to answer each question and field questions from other members of the group (about 10-15 minutes for each expert). In the next class, students independently take the exam.

6. Strategy: Eagles and Hawks

Application: Anatomy and Physiology

Educator: Kyle Zander, Anatomy and Physiology Faculty, Housatonic Community College, CT

Implementation: On the first day of the laboratory in A&P, provide students with a list of all of the surface body regions they are responsible for learning.  Allow ten to fifteen minutes for them to work independently, using the text, to find each region and write down its common name. Then pair students to form Eagle/Hawk partners.  In the pair, students compare their results and fill in blanks or gaps they may have in their lists.   Exchange partners using Eagles/Hawks several times, to allow all students to complete their summary sheets and check results with several other students.  This activity not only provides students with an active role in learning these regions, but also helps students get to know each other on the first day of lab and hopefully supports the development of study groups.

7. Strategy: The Jigsaw

Application: Biology & Anatomy Classes

Educator: Marc Morancy, Faculty, Biology, Bay College, MI

Implementation: During lab time, have students form groups of four. These groups work together in lab and also become home groups for lecture material. Each week, assign four sub-topics from the current lecture topic. For homework, assign students to make a simple outline for the chosen sub-topic. The following week in lab, the individuals with the same sub-topic meet for 10 minutes to exchange ideas/thoughts within expert groups. Then the home groups come together, and each individual has five minutes to discuss/teach the most important concepts within the sub-topic.

8. Strategy: The Jigsaw

Application: Human Biology – Biology 104 (Urine Formation)

Educator: Laurie Johnson, Faculty, Biology, Bay College, MI

Implementation: Use the Jigsaw to help students gain a deeper understanding of the process of urine formation. Have students in home groups of three volunteer to become their groups expert on one of the following: Glomerular filtration, Tubular reabsorption, and Tubular secretion. Give students until the next class period to research their topics. In the next class, have students meet in expert groups and develop an outline of the main points of their topic to take back to their home groups. In home groups, "experts" make their presentations and the whole group "reassembles" the steps of the urine formation process into a whole.

9. Strategy: Silent Socratic Dialogue

Application: Biology

Educator: Wendy Brown, Faculty, Biology, Danville Area Community College, IL

Implementation: The goal here is for students to get a better understanding of both sides of a controversial biological issue (e.g., human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, human impact on global climate change, use of genetic profiling). Many people either don’t know the viewpoints of both sides or if they do, don’t take the initiative to question their own beliefs. For this activity, students choose an issue and side from a list of topics. Students then read an article supporting their viewpoint. Students on opposite sides of the viewpoint pair up and summarize their viewpoint, exchange papers, and ask questions about their partner’s viewpoint. This process of questioning and responding to questions is repeated three times.

10. Strategy: The Jigsaw

Application: Microbiology Lab

Educator: Janet Colvin, Faculty, Microbiology, Mayland Community College, NC

Implementation: In Lab, create home groups of three and have students choose to become the group’s expert in one of the three components of the first two lab exercises ("Use of the Microscope" and "Staining"): 1) Using the microscope, 2) the gram stain procedure, 3) interpreting the gram stain procedure results. To complete Step A, tell the students about their resources (the textbook and lab manual) and time available to become their group’s expert (until next lab meeting). In Step B, have the expert groups meet to plan how to teach their information to their home group members. Also, have each expert group create a practice test to evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching. Preview these tests, revising where necessary. In Step C, the experts return to their home groups, teach their home groups their information, then administer and review the practice tests. The instructor answers questions about the practice tests and later gives an instructor-created test that counts toward the students’ grades. The students then complete the laboratory exercises: "Use of the Microscope" and "Staining."

11. Strategy: Jigsaw within a Jigsaw

Application: Biology

Educator: Bryan Rollins, GED Instructor, Chemeketa Community College, OR

Implementation: Create groups of 4. Assign each group member a human body system (circulatory, digestive, nervous, respiratory). Each student gets a summary of the system they are assigned, but will also do their own research. They should find and record information about 1) organs & functions within the system; 2) word parts and vocabulary associated with system; 3) diseases and prevention/care. Students share their findings with other “experts” in their system then return to original group and “teach” their system to the group.

Now assign one system (e.g., circulatory) to entire class. Create groups of 3. One person researches organs and function in the system. Another researches word parts and vocabulary, and the third researches diseases and prevention/care. Then proceed with jigsaw. Experts share with experts, then return to group to teach their home group.

12. Strategy: Hand-Up/Stand-Up

Application: Human Anatomy Lab

Educator: Cara Gubbins, Faculty, Science, Butte College, CA

Implementation: In Anatomy lab, assign one new term to each student. Instruct students to spend 10-15 minutes finding that item on a model, on a chart, and on an x-ray or other material to be used on exam. Next, have students use Hand-Up/Stand-Up to find a partner and spend two minutes teaching each other their items. Have students find a new partner and exchange their information again. Repeat until each student has met with every other student and covered all the terms.

13. Strategy: Jigsaw

Application: Human Anatomy – Biology 20

Educator: Cara Gubbins, Faculty, Biology, Butte College, CA

Implementation: In order to help students understand the three circuits of blood flow through the human body, I created a jigsaw activity. With students in groups of three, I pass out a handout I created that summarizes the circuits and has focus questions for each circuit. Each student chooses to become an expert on one circuit of blood flow through the body (1-coronary, 2-systemic, 3–pulmonary). Have students silently read their topic summary and answer the focus questions on the handout. When everyone has finished reading and answering the questions, form expert groups by having 1’s stand up and form pairs with another 1 (and 2’s with 2’s and 3’s with 3’s) and discuss their topic and their answers to the focus questions for 5 minutes. Have pairs switch and join a new partner, discussing their topic again for 5 minutes. Have students return to their home groups and explain the blood flow circuit they just learned about, spending about 5 minutes on each circuit. As a class, draw the Blood Flow diagram on the board, using only information volunteered by students, being sure to include any information that will be on the upcoming exam such as naming chambers, levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, etc. Have students draw and label it in their notes as the instructor draws it on the board.

14. Strategy: Purpose and Fun as Motivators (Using Videos)

Application: Nanotechnology (Science or Engineering) or Any Course

Educator: Aruna Brennan, Nanotechnology Systems Faculty, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, CN

Implementation: At the beginning of the course, assign students to provide a link to a website/video which makes them excited about entering the technology field. Students should explain the element that provided them motivation. At the beginning of each class thereafter, pick one of the submissions, show the video (all or part depending on time), and have the student who submitted it tell why s/he found it motivating.

15. Strategy: AHA! Journal

Application: Biology

Educator: Linda Abraham & Sayna Jahangivi, Faculty, Biology, Folsom Lake College, CA

Implementation: Keep a journal in shared lab for all students. At any point in any class a student can write an entry describing their “AHA” moment. Explain the AHA Journal during initial lab sessions where students and instructors commit to helping each other achieve their desired outcomes and experiences. “AHA” entries are available for anyone to read and celebrate (bell ring to signify) at any point in the semester.

16. Strategy: Success Teams

Application: Chemistry or Any Course

Educator: Nagash Clark, Faculty, Chemistry, Washtenaw Community College, MI

Implementation: I divided my general chemistry class into success teams. I chose the group members myself. This is class where historically student performance is all over the place. After I created success teams, the groups sat together, kept each other accountable; and worked on assignments together. They were also given bonus points if everyone got a C or above on a test. I have never seen such intra-group and inter-group camaraderie in a class. Attrition was very low, and grades were good. There was significant improvement on everyone’s final assessment compared to the initial assessment that was given at the beginning of the semester (And this was a multiple choice department test–not one that I wrote).

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