Friday, 20 November 2015

Student-Centred Biology: Getting Student Feedback and Using Technology to Provide Choice

Lab Option 2 gave students the
opportunity to practice Punnett
squares
, which are used to predict
the outcomes of breeding experiments.
Recently in the Grade 11 Biology classroom, we asked for student feedback about our revised learning cycle and student-centred approach to teaching Biology.

The feedback was positive:  students enjoy the predictable patterns in assessment and consistent exit card quizzes.

Online exit card quizzes are used as an assessment for learning. Students can practice their multiple-choice skills by completing these assessments as often as they would like to check their understanding of content. Students have mentioned that the multiple-choice quizzes are difficult and give them a good sense of the course expectations. Because the quizzes provide marks immediately, they get the instantaneous feedback they need while reviewing or studying.

Recently in our classes we provided students with two different fly lab assignments (Option 1, Option 2). Fly labs involve studying inheritance patterns in fruit flies. Both assignments met course expectations, and allowed students to investigate a lab they may complete in their post-secondary studies, but allowed for different levels of support and areas of focus. One simulation allowed students to proceed through a fly lab with the same steps they would complete within a post-secondary environment, while the other focused more on a more complex inheritance pattern, and allowed for students to practice creating Punnett squares to prove their understanding of concepts.

As teachers, we continue to seek out opportunities for students to experience choice, and engage in course material in a way that is meaningful for their needs. We look forward to investigating the diversity within a biological community when students grow their own bacterial samples in the lab in our upcoming unit.

Nancy Clarke and Vanessa Floras
Science Teachers

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