Kathleen Weaver, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, presented “New Ideas in Science Education” for Monday’s faculty lecture.
During the presentation, Weaver spoke about teaching students differently and presented her new Research Methods e-book — ideas that came to her while on sabbatical.
She spoke about Bloom’s Taxonomy, which was created around the 1960s as a way to promote advanced ways of thinking. Bloom’s Taxonomy has six levels of learning, where knowledge is the lowest. That means students can remember information and repeat it back.
The other five levels are comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
Weaver argues that professors are not moving past the level of knowledge, and it is the reason why students do not apply, analyze, synthesize or evaluate information – they simply retain it.
“If we want our students to think at a higher level, we have to assess them at a higher level,” Weaver said.
Her e-book has a series of exercises to promote higher levels of learning it and is beginning to apply it in the classroom.
“I am not teaching beyond students. I am teaching for them,” Weaver said.
Her proposed way of teaching includes an emphasis on interactive activities such as class team projects.
“It’s really interesting to learn about what she has been doing in the classroom. We’ve done a lot more and that has really helped us learn,” Andra North, a senior philosophy major who is taking her course, said.
Audience members questioned her ideas by asking why she thought teaching methods used during the last 50 years were no longer working.
“It’s not that I think everything done during the past 50 years is wrong. It’s just that our focus is changing,” Weaver said.
She said the focus in higher education is shifting more on research than it is on teaching. Internationally, the United States ranks No. 18 in ability to think critically for science.
Other audience members stepped in to voice opinions.
“I think part of the issue is the diversity of the people we are trying to reach,” Christine Broussard, professor of biology, said. “Maybe 50 years ago lecturing worked, but now we have diversity,” Broussard said. “It’s been shown that leads to greater gains. If we have people of the same group, you’re not going to have that different perspective whereas if you include everyone, you will.”
Weaver has seen grade improvements, and said it is because she has challenged her students differently. She hopes professors adapt her new ideas so students can reach the top level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Alejandra Aguilar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.