Marja Bakermans: First day activities in a 1000-level biodiversity course

Filed in first day of class by on October 18, 2016 0 Comments

(BB 1045, Biodiversity, 40-80 students) On the first day of class I like to take a few minutes, before I go through the syllabus and discuss the expectations for the term, for students to contemplate the study of biodiversity. First, I ask students for the definition of biodiversity. Next, I explain that each discipline has specific principles or fundamental truths that serve as the foundation of that field. I explain that these are basic rules or laws that are followed and we must understand them in order to build up our comprehension of that specific discipline. I may even give a few examples from other disciplines, like physics. I then ask each student to take a few minutes to write 2 -3 core principles of biodiversity on a 4 x 6 card, which I collect later. I let them know this is not graded. After 5 minutes I ask them to share their information with their neighbor. We then open the discussion up to the entire class and I ask a few students to share their thoughts. With this activity, students realize that starting on day one they will be given time to work through challenging topics in class and then be expected to share and discuss their information. In addition, this exercise allows me to assess students’: 1) prior knowledge, 2) misconceptions, and 3) possible interests in subtopics of biodiversity. This exercise is followed by a brief lecture on the 7 core principles of biodiversity and how we will work with some of those more in depth through the term.

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