2008 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., May 6, 2008
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



Creativity in Science: A discussion of methods to teach creatively in order to engage and enhance learning & creativity in your students.

Sara O'Brien and Jason Davis, Biology

Science students often experience a passive “lecture & textbook” style to learning in their courses. Students are expected to memorize, and potentially synthesize the material, but are not often rewarded for creativity & the application/integration of the material to different subsets of science. We designed a course entitled; “Neuroscience & the Environment” aimed at upper level biology undergraduates as well as beginning graduate students. This course sought to expound upon and integrate previously learned material from different subsets of science, particularly physiology, evolution, ecology, and ethology to examine the influence of the brain on the environment as well as the influence of the environment on the brain. In order to engage student participation, solidify the integration of the science subsets and promote creativity, we used numerous multimedia formats to teaching, which included video & radio clips, case studies, games, and popular press articles pertaining in some way to neuroscience.

Through observation, student feedback, and catalyst postings we witnessed a quantitative increase in student participation among the lecture setting, discussion section and within online discussion groups…all of which were coincidental to a spectacular retainment in student attendance. Based on test scores, we also witnessed a quantitative & qualitative increase in student integration of the science subsets they had been studying while pursuing their biology degrees. We witnessed a qualitative increase in student creativity and ability to conceptualize relevance of their course work through a variety of carefully crafted, active participation assignments. These assignments called for group work, presentation of complex neuroscience concepts, time and classroom management skills, and creativity in the method of presentation while retaining/fine-tuning relevance of the subject matter.

Our course design sought to examine the effectiveness of using active participation, multimedia clips & the popular press to increase student engagement, to allow for a variety of student learning styles, to integrate of a variety of subsets of science, as well as to foster and reward student creativity and participation.




Index of Symposium Presenters