I thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with my partner Ann Meitz, who teaches a subject in the sciences. As humanities/social sciences instructor, I was able to get a fascinating glimpse into trends in a very different field. Our conversation revealed both similar and divergent pedagogical concerns. Ann first shared with me her thoughts about an article she had chosen to focus on entitled ” Inquiry-Based Approaches: What Do Students Think?” published in Faculty Focus. She explained that this article is a review of a larger paper but that she was able to glean some valuable insights from it. Before we even got into the discussion of the article she shared with me a trend in her field called STEM approach to teaching, which is an interdisciplinary approach, and the acronym stands for ‘science, technology, engineering, and math.’ I was excited about this because my own approach in teaching composition, literature, and education always includes interdisciplinary approaches and content. So, we had something in common from the start.
Ann outlined how the article considers three approaches to learning: case-based, problem-based, and discovery-based and how original research is inquiry-based. When considering the difference between information framed inquiry and discovery framed inquiry, it seems that discovery and incorporating students’ impressions ranks higher on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Ann outlined her own appreciation for inquiry-based learning as she explained that BC Provincial Curriculum is becoming more inquiry-based. Interestingly, it seems that labs are now being framed in terms of guided inquiry, even though the terminology outlined in the article may not be used. What an interesting new world of science pedagogy was opened up for me–almost wish I could take a science course again.
The second article that Ann shared is entitled “Adaptive Testing Evolves to Assess Common-Core Skills” published in Education Week. Overall, testing in the sciences is intended to assist students in mastery of the material; however, computer rubrics don’t work well with students at either end of the scale. With the goals of formative assessment in mind, adaptive testing uses students’ test results to formulate their next level of testing. This is a more individualized approach that is aimed at each student’s own advancing level of accomplishment. Ann explained that some of the other benefits of this approach are that both cheating and testing time are reduced. Most significantly, though, student engagement is increased. I really like how Ann described this kind of testing as “assessment for learning, not assessing learning.” I agree that this kind of formative approach is more learner-centered. In discussing both of the articles that Ann chose to focus on, I learned that educators in both sciences and humanities/social sciences are continually evaluating their approaches to teaching and that there is much to gain from interdisciplinary sharing of insights across fields.