Project-based Learning

 

As a Google Faculty Fellow, I am conducting research into the benefits of project-based learning for students in a general-education introductory science course and for the science-major learning assistants who mentor the projects.

LA Exit Questionaire

December 22 2011

Here are the (completely unedited) exit questionnaires filled out by the LA at end of the Fall 2011 Astrobiology experience. Three LAs have responded so far, the other two responses will be added as the LAs respond.

Lessons Learned

December 15 2011

Today we sat down together to grade the projects. Each project was graded according to the project’s wiki and final product as stated in the grading rubric. We reviewed each group’s work and had a discussion before secretly voting on a letter grade. This was done to avoid influencing each other’s judgment, but in all cases our grades were very much in agreement and it was easy to make a final decision.

Fall 2011 Astrobiology Projects

December 9 2011

Today was the day that all the projects were due. Presenting them in Del Norte (the open room that we used specifically for this purpose) was crazy and wonderful. The response from people not in our class was overwhelming. Parents, administrators, colleagues, and friends all showed up to support the cause.

Project Celebration!

December 9 2011

Today was the day that all the projects were due. Presenting them in Del Norte (the open room that we used specifically for this purpose) was crazy and wonderful. The response from people not in our class was overwhelming. Parents, administrators, colleagues, and friends all showed up to support the cause.

Research and project design continue

November 4 2011

This week was very similar to the last couple weeks for the L.A.'s. Our job is keep track of our groups and make sure that they're keeping up with their timelines. Most of the groups seem to be doing pretty well so far, and only a few students have missed more than 1 Friday group session.

Cruising along

October 21 and 28 2011

For both the 8th and 9th weeks, there were barely any new developments by the LA team. At this point in the project, we have set the students loose on their own projects, and the new changes are centered around the student groups. Our job has changed from creative (setting up guidelines, etc.) to evaluative (checking group progress and helping where needed).

And the fun ... I mean work ... begins!

October 14, 2011

This week, with the groups formed, the real work begins. At the beginning of class, we instructed the students to sit with their group members and to write 4 items (Group name, group members, project idea/product idea, and any preference they had for LA they would like to work with) on a piece of paper for us to collect so that we could split up groups among the LA's. Only two students didn't have groups; they were quickly placed into groups that were short on people.

Grading the projects

October 7, 2011

This week, we only had the weekly meeting to attend as the students in the Astro 4C class have a midterm on Monday. Despite this fact, we were very productive in the time we had. The focus for this meeting was to nail down exactly how we were going to grade students for this project.

Projects starting to solidify

September 30, 2011

Today was a very productive day for the both the L.A. team and the Astrobiology class. An hour before class started, the L.A. team got together to discuss what was going to be done with the students today. We knew that groups with solid project ideas needed to start forming, so we discussed exactly how we were going to address those main issues.

Project ideas + What is the best way to create groups?

September 23, 2011

Today in our LA meeting we reviewed the project question ideas posted on the class web forum by the students. We also had a lengthy discussion on the topic of group creation.

First Day of Project Research in ASTR 4C

September 9, 2011

Today students started to brainstorm project ideas. AJ, Glen, Kevin, and I were there to help students come up with questions that are not easily Googled.

First Meeting to Gauge Mentor Interest

September 2, 2011

Today I held the first meeting of students interested in becoming learning assistants to help me implement project-based instruction in my intro to Astrobiology (ASTR 4C) course. The level of interest was fantastic! Twelve physics majors showed up to the informational meeting. The semester has already began and the schedule will not work for some, but they seem very interested.

Google Faculty Institute

August 12, 2001

I attended the inaugural Google Faculty Institute at the Googleplex August 11-12, and I returned full of ideas.