Teaching generic science skills online to first year biology students

David Kramer

Abstract


Science Skills in Context was introduced in semester 1, 2005 as a compulsory wholly online unit for first year students commencing their studies in the biological sciences at Deakin University. The concept of the unit was to teach generic skills in science using the lecture content of the first year biology unit as the scientific context. Skills addressed included critical thinking and the scientific method; an introduction to data, basic statistics and graphical representations of data; strategies for sourcing and writing about scientific information; and how bioinformatics has led to a paradigm shift in biological research. The delivery of the unit was via WebCT-Vista and included extensive multimedia content: instructional FLASH tutorials, interactive chat-room online tutorials, directed study of online materials and readings, and, learning through mastery of online assessment. Examples of the teaching materials will be presented and the learning objectives and teaching strategies and their relative successes and shortcomings will be discussed together with an overview of student outcomes, participation and feedback in the unit.

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