Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Montessori for college students?

A nice study that supports giving college kids freedom to learn and think, instead of cookbook lab experiments provided better test scores, and more objective thinkers.

"Science Daily — Give college students less instruction and more freedom to think for themselves in laboratory classes, and the result may be a four-fold increase in their test scores."

Here's the breakdown: "Roughly 300 students, all taking an introductory biology course for science majors, were in each group. The first group used what Rissing calls the “cookbook method” – they followed step-by-step instructions on how to carry out the experiment and display their results. These students were provided with a standard, prepared enzyme solution.
The second group of students had to prepare their own enzyme solutions from a piece of raw turnip. They were also given more freedom to think through their approach to the same experiment, and were encouraged to use critical thinking and hands-on discovery to come up with their approach. "

Results: ..."(23 percent) in the “cookbook” group answered the question correctly. But 83 percent of the students who developed their own approach gave the right answer".

The goal is to increase scientific literacy for the masses, and this is a good start.

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