Navigation Links
Science 101: Different teaching fosters better comprehension

Montreal, April 5, 2011 Introductory science courses in biology, chemistry, math and physics can be challenging for first-year college, CEGEP and university students. Science 101 courses can make or break a student's decision to venture into a scientific field or even pursue higher education.

"The language, fundamentals and scope of science gateway courses can be akin to a foreign culture," says Calvin Kalman, principal of Concordia's Science College and a professor in the Department of Physics. "Students can have great difficulty reading scientific texts even when they are written in their native language and they must also cope with complex knowledge taught by their professor."

Since 1995, Kalman has investigated new ways to ease this learning curve. "The main problem in teaching science is that its approach is not holistic," he explains, noting high school through university-level textbooks aren't necessarily consistent and don't employ user-friendly language. "They offer layers of scientific results, coming from competing interpretations, deposited during centuries."

Kalman's most recent paper, published in the journal Science & Education, followed CEGEP and university students over the course of a semester. He asked that they practice what he calls "reflective writing" a process where students digest, analyze and pen their thoughts on assigned readings before classroom discussions. "It's a way of getting students to wrestle with materials and grasp their meaning, rather than just summarizing," he explains.

As part of his study, students were interviewed three times and asked to describe how reflective-writing helped their comprehension of course content. "They felt that they had to put the information into their own words, which really helped them refine key concepts," Kalman says. "Reflective writing gets students to initiate a self-dialogue about texts and ask: 'What do I understand?' and 'What do I not understand?'"

Kalman says teaching and learning is most successful when a student's outlook on a course is close to that of their professor. "Students are often looking for basics to pass courses, but that doesn't engage them," he says. "Unless they come to class prepared to ask questions, students end up serving time."

Kalman's solutions aren't radical: He encourages professors to go beyond PowerPoint presentations and lectures to promote critical thinking both inside and outside the classroom. His research has garnered collaborations with peers in Toronto, Vancouver and, internationally, in Portugal, Vietnam and China. Improving science education, Kalman says, is the only way for nations to remain at the forefront of the knowledge-based economy.

"Bolstering student understanding of basic science courses can improve retention rates in this field," he says. "But if students don't understand what they're learning they'll drop out and we'll lose ideas and people who will move their countries forward. What countries need are people who think critically who are entrepreneurs and that begins with how they're taught."


Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
514-848-2424 x5068
Concordia University

Related biology news :

1. Penn presents inaugural symposium on applied mathematics and computational science
2. UW science photo takes second in national contest
3. Global science community to gather in Mozambique
4. 8 National Medals of Science awardees to be honored at gala, then the White House
5. A major prize in the chemical sciences announced by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
6. BioScience tip sheet, October 2008
7. National Science Foundation grants Clemson professors award to develop nanoprobes
8. National Science Foundation grant expands UMCES oyster research
9. Mandate for biofuels production requires science-based policy and global perspective
10. US Senate confirms Clemson University engineering Dean Esin Gulari to National Science Board
11. The Science Coalitions 10 questions for the presidential debate
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Science 101: Different teaching fosters better comprehension
(Date:4/26/2016)... , April 27, 2016 ... "Global Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report to their ... , The analysts forecast the global ... of 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  ... of sectors such as the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients ... a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a ... the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key ... body mass index, and, when they opt in, share ... visit to a local retail location at no cost. ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... PUNE, India , March 22, 2016 ... new market research report "Electronic Sensors Market for ... Fingerprint, Proximity, & Others), Application (Communication & ... and Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", ... consumer industry is expected to reach USD ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Andrew ... Published recently in ... journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , ... cancer care is placing an increasing burden on ... biologic therapies. With the patents on many biologics ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ClinCapture, the only free validated ... will showcase its product’s latest features from June 26 to June 30, 2016 ... on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during the conference. DIA (Drug ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... new line of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC ... in Chicago. The result of a collaboration among several companies with expertise in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... research report to its pharmaceuticals section with historic ... details and much more. Complete report ... 151 pages, profiling 15 companies and supported with ... . The Global ...
Breaking Biology Technology: