2007 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 24, 2007
HUB West Ballroom

Session Description


Reaching the benefits of collaborative learning: Wikis are tricky

Bryan White - Program in Neurobiology and Behavior / Pharmacology


Although the benefits of collaborative learning are known by educators, students often are apprehensive toward working in groups, especially if they have been successful with lecture-format methods. I designed a course where in-class group activities and a collaborative group project would be central to the class. In Winter 2007 I taught a neural stem cell class to 10 upper-class neurobiology students implementing this collaborative curriculum (NBIO440--Neural stem cell response to CNS pathology: from basic science techniques to medical promise). Students worked in small groups on in-class activities to interpret data, design experiments, and critique grants. In addition, they participated in a quarter-long collaborative research project examining the feasibility of stem cell therapy for a particular CNS pathology of their choice. They presented their research in an in-class poster session and created an on-line wiki site of their findings. Student thoughts on collaborative group learning were assessed by questionnaire at the beginning and end of the course. Although students could articulate the benefits of group work in the abstract, it seemed challenging for them to implement those benefits in reality. Revisiting the benefits of group work during the quarter and being explicit about certain aspects of group interaction throughout the class may better support collaborative learning.


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