Chapter 11: “Questions in Biology”Designing an Online Discussion Forum for Promoting Active Learning about Evolution
Chapter 11 “Questions in Biology” Designing an Online Discussion Forum for Promoting Active Learning about Evolution Betina da Silva Lopes, Aurora Coelho Moreira, Maria Helena Pedrosa de Jesus Abstract The present context of Portuguese Higher Education as a consequence of the so- called ‘Bologna Process’ asks for pedagogical innovations in order to promote the acquisition and development of competences such as critical and creative thinking and problem-solving, where questioning plays a central role. The design and implementation of student-centered approaches, in order to enhance deep and active learning, requires an alignment between teaching strategies, learning outcomes and particularly assessment methods, which strongly influence stu- dents’ approaches to learning. This chapter describes the process of designing and implementing a teaching- learning assessment strategy called “Questions in Biology” in the context of a curri- cular unit taught by one Biology professor to first year undergraduates at the Uni- versity of Aveiro (Portugal) during two academic years (2007/2008 and 2008/2009). “Questions in Biology” started as an online discussion forum (ODF), hosted at the e-learning platform of the university, where students had the oppor- tunity to develop questioning, discussion and argumentation about topics on evolution. During the second year, some ODF improvements were introduced as well as the implementation of presential group discussions during lectures. Students’ performance was assessed during the study. Data collected by in- terviewing the professor and some of the students provided evidence of the posi- tive impact on student quality learning. Also, as a result of this strategy, the number...
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