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Center for Teaching and Learning

Focused Inquiry Groups (FIGs) - BSI

Reading Apprenticeship - Members - Patricia Wu

Reading Apprenticeship Faculty Inquiry Group

Instructor Review

2009 - 2010

The lecture style in the physiology class has changed significantly. Instead of lecturing for 50 minutes straight, 10 minutes of lecture time before the break is now reserved for student discussions and reflections. This technique is called “Think, Pair Share”. The first 5 minutes of the “Think, Pair Share”, each student will find a partner to reflect on the part of the lecture which they have difficulties understanding and discuss it. They may also use this time to “fill in the gap” which means to get missed information from the classmates. The last 5 minutes, students will share the questions with the class, and the questions will be answered by the instructor. The purpose of incorporating the “Think, Pair Share” technique is to slow down the pace of the lecture, so the students have a chance to catch up with the new concepts and enhance deeper learning of the material. Also, the 10-minute “time out” from lecture gives the shy students in the class to raise questions or confusions with their peers.

Another significant change in the class is that students are now required to complete reading reflections (or reading logs) from the textbook. This is how it works: a reading reflection has two columns. When students come across a statement/confusion/idea they read in the text, they will write or type (template is provided on Blackboard) it in the left column. In the right column, students will respond or interpret the statement/confusion/idea which caught their attention in the first place. The idea of implementing the reading reflections is to 1) encourage the students to read, 2) slow down students’ reading, so they will think about the material critically or engage the text metacognitively, and 3) enhance their understanding of important and basic concepts. Interesting statements, questions, or confusions are shared during the “Think, Pair Share” time and during lab in group discussions. The reading reflections are also collected and read by the instructor to provide feedback and gain insights into students’ confusions.

The reading reflections will be expanded next semester to include a third column: Solutions. The rationale for this expansion is that the students often raise good questions or state their confusions well in the second column but they seldom try to find the answers to their problems. Often times, answers are apparent in their readings but they just don’t bother with it since they are not “asked” to do it. Hopefully, the reading reflections will modify students’ behavior from not paying attention to reading critically, recognizing problems/confusions, and finding solutions. In other words, the reading reflections may change the students from passive to active learners.

Midterm grades from different semesters are analyzed to assess the effectiveness of the RA routines. Students usually earn the highest grade from the first midterm then decline due to the increased difficulty of the material. Midterm grades from spring 2007 to spring 2009 semesters (without RA) showed the declining or erratic trends. RA routines were implemented in the fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters, and the midterm grades were fairly stable from the beginning to the end of the semester as the material got harder. In spring 2010, only three midterms were scheduled instead of the four administered in the past semester to accommodate the extra flex days, therefore, more material was covered for each of the three midterm as well. But the midterm grades did not decline. It was stable through the entire semester.

In conclusion, RA routines which emphasize metacognitive skills helped students’ performance in the physiology class.

Figure 1 Midterm grades from spring 07 to spring 10 semesters



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