Friday, March 28, 2014

Ready to Learn

Scientific ideas have been evolving since the beginning when humans started to make sense of the realities that surround us. Along the way there have been times when a dramatic and revolutionary shift on paradigm occurred. For westerners the Greek philosophers were the starting stone for their use of logic and reason as a means to know. Then in the middle ages several geniuses became the stepping stones helping us cross to modernity by their use of measurement and experimentation; the scientific method was developed. Finally as we reach the shores of post-modernism more genius minds have become the cap-stone for inquiry with a touch of irony. These cap-stones are not to cap or stop knowledge from advancing but to give support for a much deeper understanding of reality.
So how can we teach science today based on the history and complexity of our understanding of the world? In fact even the word "world" is inadequate as today we know that our "world" -our planet is just a very small, insignificant dust in the vast -immense universe of ours. So the one thing I want to use from the introduction to the way we teach science (it may apply to the way we teach anything) is the following: Knowledge is interconnected! Ideas cannot be learned if there is no foundation -previously developed- and there is no reference or context for this new concept or idea. Giving the limitation of time students must bring some understanding of the subject that allows them to learn more about the subject, of course this doesn't apply to introductory courses which by definition assume that the student has no previous knowledge of the subject.
Should entrance examinations be applied to every single course that is not introductory?


  1. There is a growing body of research showing the value of a "pre-test" or "pre-assessment" at the start of a course, a module in a course, a topic, or even a class to ensure that you know what they know.
    This does of course mean that the instructor will likely need to adjust some (or a lot depending on the case) what will be required to meet the learning objectives for the class/module/course. This means real work and JIT (Just-in time) teaching.
    Depending on your teaching philosophy you will either love tis or though this is the worst idea every suggested...

    1. You are right in that depending on teaching philosophy you might like it or not, but your point is well taken as an indication of the need to grow as we teach too. Having 'pre-tests' will always provide more information that without a doubt will benefit instruction. Thanks for your comment!