(1/24) Students' motivations for data handling choices and behaviors: their explanations of performance.

Cries for increased accountability through additional assessment are heard throughout the educational arena. However, as demonstrated in this study, to make a valid assessment of teaching and learning effectiveness, educators must determine not only what students do, but also why they do it, as the latter significantly affects the former. This study describes and analyzes 14- to 16-year-old students' explanations for their choices and performances during science data handling tasks. The study draws heavily on case-study methods for the purpose of seeking an in-depth understanding of classroom processes in an English comprehensive school. During semistructured scheduled and impromptu interviews, students were asked to describe, explain, and justify the work they did with data during their science classes. These student explanations fall within six categories, labeled 1) implementing correct procedures, 2) following instructions, 3) earning marks, 4) doing what is easy, 5) acting automatically, and 6) working within limits. Each category is associated with distinct outcomes for learning and assessment, with some motivations resulting in inflated performances while others mean that learning was underrepresented. These findings illuminate the complexity of student academic choices and behaviors as mediated by an array of motivations, casting doubt on the current understanding of student performance.  (+info)

(2/24) The promise of new ideas and new technology for improving teaching and learning.

There have been enormous advances in our understanding of human learning in the past three decades. There have also been important advances in our understanding of the nature of knowledge and new knowledge creation. These advances, when combined with the explosive development of the Internet and other technologies, permit advances in educational practices at least as important as the invention of the printing press in 1460. We have built on the cognitive learning theory of David Ausubel and various sources of new ideas on epistemology. Our research program has focused on understanding meaningful learning and on developing better methods to achieve such learning and to assess progress in meaningful learning. The concept map tool developed in our program has proved to be highly effective both in promoting meaningful learning and in assessing learning outcomes. Concept mapping strategies are also proving powerful for eliciting, capturing, and archiving knowledge of experts and organizations. New technology for creating concept maps developed at the University of West Florida permits easier and better concept map construction, thus facilitating learning, knowledge capture, and local or distance creation and sharing of structured knowledge, especially when utilized with the Internet. A huge gap exists between what we now know to improve learning and use of knowledge and the practices currently in place in most schools and corporations. There are promising projects in progress that may help to achieve accelerated advances. These include projects in schools at all educational levels, including projects in Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, and the United States, and collaborative projects with corporate organizations and distance learning projects. Results to date have been encouraging and suggest that we may be moving from the lag phase of educational innovation to a phase of exponential growth.  (+info)


The performance of medical students enrolled at the University of British Columbia from 1952 to 1961 is reviewed and related to certain descriptive factors available to the screening committee at the time of application. Almost 40% of enrolled students had academic difficulty in medical school; 16.4% failed a complete year. Since 91% of students who failed out, did so after freshman medicine examinations, these grades were examined for significant association with certain intellectual and non-intellectural factors. Sex and year of registration were not significantly associated with freshman performance, but permanent home address was: students from other Commonwealth countries did not perform as well as Canadians. Significant correlations were observed between both pre-medical grades and Medical College Admission Test scores and first-year medicine marks. By multiple regression analysis four factors were found to be predictive: age, number of pre-medical years completed at the time of application, overall pre-medical grade average and "Science" M.C.A.T. score. From the resulting equation, 77.4% of the grades of medical students who completed their freshman year in 1962 were predicted within one standard error. Students on the whole were noted to perform consistently in pre-medicine and medicine.  (+info)

(4/24) Teaching cell biology in the large-enrollment classroom: methods to promote analytical thinking and assessment of their effectiveness.

A large-enrollment, undergraduate cellular biology lecture course is described whose primary goal is to help students acquire skill in the interpretation of experimental data. The premise is that this kind of analytical reasoning is not intuitive for most people and, in the absence of hands-on laboratory experience, will not readily develop unless instructional methods and examinations specifically designed to foster it are employed. Promoting scientific thinking forces changes in the roles of both teacher and student. We describe didactic strategies that include directed practice of data analysis in a workshop format, active learning through verbal and written communication, visualization of abstractions diagrammatically, and the use of ancillary small-group mentoring sessions with faculty. The implications for a teacher in reducing the breadth and depth of coverage, becoming coach instead of lecturer, and helping students to diagnose cognitive weaknesses are discussed. In order to determine the efficacy of these strategies, we have carefully monitored student performance and have demonstrated a large gain in a pre- and posttest comparison of scores on identical problems, improved test scores on several successive midterm examinations when the statistical analysis accounts for the relative difficulty of the problems, and higher scores in comparison to students in a control course whose objective was information transfer, not acquisition of reasoning skills. A novel analytical index (student mobility profile) is described that demonstrates that this improvement was not random, but a systematic outcome of the teaching/learning strategies employed. An assessment of attitudes showed that, in spite of finding it difficult, students endorse this approach to learning, but also favor curricular changes that would introduce an analytical emphasis earlier in their training.  (+info)

(5/24) Educational psychology in medical learning: a randomised controlled trial of two aide memoires for the recall of causes of electromechanical dissociation.

OBJECTIVES: Although mnemonics are commonly used in medical education there are few data on their effectiveness. A RCT was undertaken to test the hypothesis that a new aide memoire, "EMD-aide", would be superior to the conventional "4Hs+4Ts" mnemonic in facilitating recall of causes of electromechanical dissociation (EMD) among house officers. METHOD: "EMD-aide", organises causes of EMD by frequency of occurrence and ease of reversibility: four groups organised by shape, colour, position, numbering, clockwise sequence, and use of arrows. Eight hospitals were randomised in a controlled trial and 149 house officers were then recruited by telephone. Baseline ability to recall causes of EMD was recorded at one minute and overall. House officers were then sent a copy of either "4Hs+4Ts" or "EMD-aide" according to randomisation group. Recall ability was retested at one month. RESULTS: 68 of 80 and 51 of 69 house officers completed the study in the "4Hs+4Ts" and "EMD-aide" groups respectively (NS) with similar baseline recall. After intervention median number of recalled causes was greater in the "EMD-aide" group, eight compared with seven at one minute (p = 0.034) and eight compared with seven overall, p = 0.067. Recall of all eight causes was more common in "EMD-aide" group, 54% compared with 35%, p = 0.054, and these house officers spent longer examining their aide memoire, p<0.001. CONCLUSIONS: "EMD-aide" may be superior to "4Hs+4Ts" in facilitating the recall of the causes of electromechanical dissociation. Educational psychology of medical learning and the use of aide memoires in general are worthy of further study.  (+info)

(6/24) Medical students' perceptions in relation to ethnicity and gender: a qualitative study.

BACKGROUND: The British medical student population has undergone rapid diversification over the last decades. This study focuses on medical students' views about their experiences in relation to ethnicity and gender during their undergraduate training within the context of the hidden curriculum in one British medical school as part of a wider qualitative research project into undergraduate medical education. METHOD: We interviewed 36 undergraduate medical students in one British Medical School, across all five years of training using a semi-structured interview schedule. We selected them by random and quota sampling, stratified by sex and ethnicity and used the whole medical school population as a sampling frame. Data analyses involved the identification of common themes, reported by means of illustrative quotations and simple counts. RESULTS: The students provided information about variations patterned by gender in their motivation and influences when deciding to study medicine. Issues in relation to ethnicity were: gaining independence from parents, perceived limitations to career prospects, incompatibility of some religious beliefs with some medical practices and acquired open-mindedness towards students and patients from different ethnic backgrounds. Despite claiming no experiences of gender difference during medical training, female and male students expressed gender stereotypes, e.g. that women bring particularly caring and sympathetic attitudes to medicine, or that surgery requires the physical strength and competitiveness stereotypically associated with men that are likely to support the continuation of gender differentiation in medical careers. CONCLUSION: The key themes identified in this paper in relation to ethnicity and to gender have important implications for medical educators and for those concerned with professional development. The results suggest a need to open up aspects of these relatively covert elements of student culture to scrutiny and debate and to take an explicitly wider view of the influence of what has sometimes been called the hidden curriculum upon the training of medical professionals and the practice of medicine.  (+info)

(7/24) Using a conceptual framework during learning attenuates the loss of expert-type knowledge structure.

BACKGROUND: During evolution from novice to expert, knowledge structure develops into an abridged network organized around pathophysiological concepts. The objectives of this study were to examine the change in knowledge structure in medical students in one year and to investigate the association between the use of a conceptual framework (diagnostic scheme) and long-term knowledge structure. METHODS: Medical students' knowledge structure of metabolic alkalosis was studied after instruction and one year later using concept-sorting. Knowledge structure was labeled 'expert-type' if students shared >or= 2 concepts with experts and 'novice-type' if they shared < 2 concepts. Conditional logistic regression was used to study the association between short-term knowledge structure, the use of a diagnostic scheme and long-term knowledge structure. RESULTS: Thirty-four medical students completed the concept-sorting task on both occasions. Twenty-four used a diagnostic scheme for metabolic alkalosis. Short-term knowledge structure was not a correlate of long-term knowledge structure, whereas use of a diagnostic scheme was associated with increased odds of expert-type long-term knowledge structure (odds ratio 12.6 [1.4, 116.0], p = 0.02). There was an interaction between short-term knowledge structure and the use of a diagnostic scheme. In the group who did not use a diagnostic scheme the number of students changing from expert-type to novice-type was greater than vice versa (p = 0.046). There was no significant change in the group that used the diagnostic scheme (p = 0.6). CONCLUSION: The use of a diagnostic scheme by students may attenuate the loss of expert-type knowledge structure.  (+info)

(8/24) Where's the evidence that active learning works?

Calls for reforms in the ways we teach science at all levels, and in all disciplines, are wide spread. The effectiveness of the changes being called for, employment of student-centered, active learning pedagogy, is now well supported by evidence. The relevant data have come from a number of different disciplines that include the learning sciences, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology. There is a growing body of research within specific scientific teaching communities that supports and validates the new approaches to teaching that have been adopted. These data are reviewed, and their applicability to physiology education is discussed. Some of the inherent limitations of research about teaching and learning are also discussed.  (+info)