SSU Assistant Professor of Biology Sarah Minter recently presented at the Ohio Natural History Conference in Columbus.
Shawnee State University's Assistant Professor of Biology Sarah Minter, Ph.D., recently presented a program on "The Creation, Implementation, and Value of Experiential Learning Opportunities in Undergraduate Classrooms" at the Ohio Natural History Conference in Columbus.
Minter talked about the increasing focus on lectures vs. authentic experience in the classroom. Teaching science through actual experience is increasingly advocated and incorporated into curricula.
"Conceptually, active experiences promote a deeper, more natural way of gaining knowledge compared to learning a subject second hand," she said. "Experiential learning theory has been studied in various contexts. The relative authenticity of an experience plays a role in learning achieved."
Minter said that goals can be reached through multiple techniques. In a small mammal survey experiment into an upper-level biology course, students received training, identified and established field sites, and were responsible for the collection of scientific data over a twelve week period. They conducted the experiment in the Shawnee State Forest during fall semester.
When the project was completed, student learning was assessed by field journals, data sheets, and individualized summaries. The data that students collected served as preliminary evidence for the modification of the survey and the continuation by undergraduate research students in 2014.
Modifications to the experimental procedure were made as necessary throughout the semester following group discussions involving all participants.
"There is a shift from the instructor-oriented classroom to the learner-centric or active classroom," Minter said.