Learning By Answering Questions

Over the weekend, I struggled with planning for my introductory biology class session on “Energy Consumption.” I didn’t want to do a lecture, but I also had lots of ground that I wanted to “cover.” Frustrated, I went for a bike ride to clear my head.

Bike rides, jogs and showers often help me free my mind to reorganize my thinking. As I was peddling along, I was ruminating about how in one particular class I have only two or three active participants, while in the other section almost everyone contributes. How to get more of them involved? How to get the over-active talkers to not feel insulted by my not calling on them?

image from: http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/heres-how-to-be-an-e-learning-superstar-in-2010/

I decided to make a slide with a question on it for each student. Questions like, “What does this figure mean?” “What is the main result shown in this figure?” The figures are key relationships about energy use/consumption, trophic levels in the biosphere, changes in the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere as a result of human energy consumption and so on.

I will post the “Question” slide set a couple of days before class and will tell the students how class will be organized that day. I will hand out tickets to each student. When a student wants to answer a question, he/she will turn in the ticket. Only ticket-holders can answer a question. Everyone gets a chance to prepare for the answers in advance. Everyone gets a turn.

Will this be a disaster? I’ll let you know.

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