Seminars on Inclusiveness and Active Learning

7 July 2011

Join us for two international guest seminars in Science and Mathematics Education on the 7 July from 4-6pm.

Widening participation: Programs converting 500 of 700 students of low SES background into university science studies

Abstract: The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a top scientific and engineering University in Israel that has educated generations of Israelis. It is also responsible for the creation of the "startup nation". Technion graduates account for 70% of the founders and mangers of high-tech industries in the country. However, a large part of the Israeli population achieves lower levels of formal education that generally leads to lower incomes. Technion believes that in addition to academic education, it is the responsibility of universities to make higher education accessible to qualified but underrepresented minority groups and provide them with an academic education. The Technion has established the Center for Pre-University Education and introduced preparatory programs designed especially for low socio-economic populations and minorities. Of special interest are the Ultra-Orthodox Jews that have never been in regular schools or studied any sciences. This specific program focuses only on four subjects: mathematics, physics, English and scientific writing. This "second chance program" gives students the opportunity to fill in educational gaps and adjust to the Technion environment. Seven hundred students per a year participate in the various programs of the Center and 500 of them succeed to be admitted to the Technion, part of them even to the most competitive Faculties such as Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. They comprise today of about 25% of the total number of the Technion students! These programs represent another step toward their attainment of socioeconomic success, leading students closer to possible leadership roles in Israeli society and strengthening their image as role models for youngsters in their home communities.

Professor Shimon Gepstein heads the Center for Pre-University Education at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and is a Professor of Biology. As the head of the Center for Pre-University Education, he is responsible for a special preparatory program for students mainly from the periphery and from low-socio economic backgrounds. The students' high school achievements are not high enough for admission to the Technion. Approximately 700 students undertake the program each year and in a 10 month period, the students' grades show significant improvements. The program has a success rate of 70% and around 500 students are admitted annually to the Technion. Professor Gepstein is also responsible for the Youth unit that brings junior and high school students ,mainly from the periphery and exposes them to sciences at the Technion. As a first year lecturer in Biology he has developed with colleagues a new hybrid approach for teaching course for large classes (more than 300 students). Finally as a plant biologist , he has recently succeeded in genetically modifying various crops to confer them extreme drought resistant. He has held Visiting Professor positions at Stanford, Johns Hopkins University and University of California in the US and in Canadian and European Universities.

Implication of different Active-learning methods in large lectures

Abstract: Lectures have been around for a long time and are likely to remain with us, especially in large first year classes. Recent research in science education suggests that traditional lectures hardly improve students' understanding and appreciation of subject matter even if the instruction includes demonstrations, simulations or computer-aided instruction. Many research studies have shown active-learning methods to be more effective in increasing student learning of concepts. These methods promote substantially greater engagement of students in class activities than, for instance, in a traditional lecture. There are several active-learning methods that can be used in the large lecture such as clickers, buzz sessions, and Peer instruction questions etc. This study has focused on teaching thermal lectures by two active-learning methods; where the first called Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILD) requires more explicit active learning strategies than the other, called Interactive Exercises (IE). ILD was implemented in two streams and IE was implemented in the remaining two streams. Thermodynamic Conceptual Survey (TCS) consisting of 35 multiple-choice questions was used to evaluate and compare student learning between the two methods. The talk will focus on the teaching strategies and present data on evaluation and comparison between the two strategies.

Dr. Pornrat Wattanakasiwich a 2011 Endeavour Research Fellowships. Current she is working at Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is in Australia to conduct a 6-month research with Prof. Manjula Sharma on "Development of Thermodynamics Conceptual Survey." Pornrat did her undergraduate and graduate work in US. She received Ph.D. from Oregon State University on Physics Education Research that she did with Prof. Kenneth S. Krane. Her research interest is still on physics education focusing on investigating students' misconceptions in Thermodynamics and development of active teaching that easily employ by physics teacher at all levels.

Time: 4-6pm

Location: New Law Annexe Seminar Room 340

Cost: Free

Email: 045b3715562a091836450b2d400e12074c5018